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Teacher Spotlight: Diane Townsend

Proteus, Inc. Teacher Profile:
Diane Townsend

Diane Townsend estimates she’s had over 4,000 students go through her classroom at the Visalia Service Center in pursuit of some form of education. Of that number, she’s most proud of helping close to 500 students receive their High School Diploma.

Those exceedingly high numbers go hand in hand with another impressive number, 36.

As in the 36 years Townsend has been employed by the Visalia Adult School to teach Adult School curriculum at Proteus, Inc.

Townsend was recently recognized for those 36 years when she received the Visalia Adult School Certificated Employee of the Year Apple Award.

An honor Townsend appreciates.

“I was really humbled to be honored that way,” Townsend said. “I do it because I love it, not because I’m looking for some reward or recognition. I feel recognized every day when my students are successful.”

Visalia Service Center Manager Yolanda Valles is very proud to have Townsend in-house and has seen the impact her teaching style has had on her students.

“Her students often times are dealing with barriers that result in difficulty obtaining their High School Diploma or GED,” Valles states. “She works with her students to break down those barriers in order to help them obtain their educational goals. She is not only a teacher to her students, but a mentor, coach and friend.”

Not bad for somebody who never imagined herself in front of the classroom.

“I really never sought out to be a teacher, I always thought I would follow school psychology and that direction,” Townsend said. “One thing led to another and there was an opening for a teacher for the partnership with the Visalia Adult School and Proteus. I went ‘downtown’ as we called the district office and signed some papers that very same day. And here I am 36 years later.”

Townsend was actually an employee of Proteus, Inc. for three years before she started working for the Adult School. That means she’s been working for Proteus, in some capacity, for over 40 years.

“I’ve been in the community so long, I’ve run into people that I simply don’t recall,” Townsend said. “But they come up and they say ‘Don’t you teach over at Proteus?’ and they tell me I helped them over 20 years ago. And they tell me how well they are doing. So that’s pretty cool to have happen.”

But even though she is eligible to retire soon, there is one last task she is eager to take on.

Next year, Townsend will start working half days on a special assignment training new teachers for the Edgunity Programs, an online-blended learning curriculum used to obtain a High School Diploma. She will also spearhead an effort to bring adult education services south of Highway 198. Currently, all of the classes the Visalia Adult School offers are only available in North Visalia.
Correcting this is Townsend’s last self-assigned task. Maybe.

“If we can make that happen and make it successful, then I feel like I’ve done my job,” Townsend said. “Once that happens, I might say OK, I’m done. Maybe I'll come back part-time.”

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