Salanoa Wins 2019 Teacher of Excellence Award


Brandon Bagoyo, Contributing Reporter

Malevine Salanoa is this year’s recipient of the 2019 Teacher of Excellence award. She will be recognized among her colleagues and fellow Central District educators at the 30th Annual HSTA Central Chapter Teacher Excellence luncheon on March 30th.

Salanoa has been teaching at Radford High School for 16 years in the resource department and is an advisor for the Class of 2019. As a former Radford Ram, the motivation to do well as a high school student, to a large extent, derived from her family.

“Although I was and still am intrinsically motivated, I always wanted to please my family. I was one of those students who never procrastinated and always got my work done and turned it in before the deadline. I had such a great support system at home that I didn’t want to let them down,” she said.

Growing up, Salanoa looked to her beloved grandmother as the biggest inspiration in her life.

“She was such a virtuous, strong, and courageous person. My grandmother was always my biggest supporter. She always believed in me and made me feel confident that I could accomplish whatever I set my mind on. She instilled within me the importance of God and family which is the way I live my life today.”

Family to this day is the primary foundation for many facets in her life. Salanoa initially dreamt of becoming a physician, but when beginning a career as an Educational Assistant at Radford High School, she kept going and never looked back. From this position, Salanoa kindled a  passion in being an educator.

“Teaching as a career has been a blessing to me and my family, as it allows me to be with my children when they are done with school or home during the breaks. Since my husband is also a teacher here at Radford, it’s a double whammy. We get to spend lunch together and that’s always nice,” she said. “I discovered that teaching was second nature to me and that I was a natural at it. While my initial dreams to become a physician did not work out, I wouldn’t trade it for teaching.”

With such time comes much trial and error in adapting to new methods, demands and means of education in a world that is constantly changing. Now onto her 16th year, Salanoa reflects on the wisdoms and philosophy that comes with teaching.

“All students are not created equal, so they have their own unique way of learning,” she said. “There’s a saying that goes ‘students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ I have tailored my teaching along this line and make it a point to let my students know that I care about them. This, in turn, makes them care about their learning so they become better students and at the same time it encourages me to be a better teacher for them.”

Her warm smile and graceful spirit in the hallways have made many look up to her as a positive and motivational influence. Outside the life of taking care of her family and her job as an educator, Salanoa has found  a ‘second home’ within the Radford High School community. A family you could say, of nurturing faculty, staff, and students even. For Salanoa, it all begins in the classroom. The place where she’s gotten to know her students and see them grow into young men and women.

Senior Ashley Butay (12) remarks Salanoa as an unconditionally loving teacher, and at times has found her to be a motherly figure. “Whenever and wherever you need her, Mrs. Salanoa will be there for you. When one of us [Leadership students] is feeling down, she takes the time to talk it out with us and cheer us up,” Butay said. “She lets us know that we are not alone, and has made us feel as if we were one of her own. I have seen her as someone who doesn’t let anything bring her down. One of the many things that I have learned from being with her is to be humble about everything you do.”

Likewise, student Tyler-Jordan Corpuz (12) is found to be moved by the same emotion. “When going about life, Mrs. Salanoa is a genuinely kind, caring and optimistic person. She’s pushed us to work together and cooperate with one another. It helped to create that close bond in our class as students, something that not a lot of teachers can do. Being her student, Mrs. Salanoa taught me that sometimes we take things for granted, and we should enjoy the moments and accomplishments we have.”

Seeing some of her students off to graduation and accomplishing bigger things in their lives is bittersweet to say the least. Yet to every beginning, there is an end, and to every end, there are new beginnings. As her time as a Senior Class Advisor comes to an end, and her time as a teacher lives on, Salanoa shares one piece of advice to every Radford student. “Never be afraid to try something new. There’s no growth in the comfort zone so get out and try new things. Join a club, play a sport, do volunteer work. You’ll meet new people and gain new experiences and you won’t look back when your time is done at RHS…You never know, you may be good at something that you never knew you were good at until you tried it.”