Tony Valente is a doer. While others around him were envisioning what they could accomplish, Valente set out to make success happen. “Knowing you can do something is vastly different than actually doing something,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a person who claimed he could do something but not have any evidence of achievement.” Having the “proof” is important to Valente as it is a testament to the hard work and dedication his Italian parents instilled in him as he grew up watching them struggle to provide for the family after immigrating to America. Today as principal and instructional leader of Proviso East High School in Maywood, Valente transfers his motivation to succeed into his school, overseeing curricular and co-curricular activities and fostering the importance of a high school education.
Valente graduated from Triton College in 1990 with an Associate of Science degree with a business emphasis. Transferring to Northern Illinois University, he received his Bachelor of Science in History Education and recently completed his Ed.S. in Educational Leadership also from Northern. Valente received his master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University.
What steps have you taken to get to your current position?I began teaching in 1994 at Proviso East High School. In 2001, I became a dean of students and later an assistant principal at West Aurora High School. In 2006, I became assistant principal and later principal of Kaneland High School. In 2009, I became principal and curriculum director of Hall High School. Two years later, I was named the new principal of Proviso East High School.
What awards or accolades have you received?I received a Merit Scholarship for academics from Northeastern Illinois University. Plus, I was named the 2008 Chicagoland Italian American Charitable Organization (CIACO) Member of the Year, and in 2011, was elected as a member to the Kaneland School District #302 School Board.
What have abeen some obstacles you've had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?The major obstacle was the English language. As an immigrant from Italy, I struggled with the English language throughout my elementary and secondary school years. Triton College and especially Tom Secco, an English teacher, really helped me overcome my struggles with reading and writing. I also had to overcome the death of my father at a young age. Since he was the major financial contributor, it was difficult to grow up in a family that had limited financial resources. I credit Triton College for giving me a good education, and I credit my mother for working three jobs and putting me through school.
What would you describe as your strong suit?My main quality is perseverance. Though we all face struggles in life, who you are is determined by how you persevere through those struggles. I can say in life that I have failed numerous times, but it has never stopped my drive to achieve my goals.
How has Triton College impacted your life?Triton College has had a tremendous impact on my life. It was the start of the path in my academic journey. The many quality professors that I had at Triton challenged me to think and produce work that I had not believed I had the ability to produce. After all of the struggles of high school, it was a fresh start to achieve my dream as the only person in my family to graduate from college.
What advice would you give someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?The key in life is to pursue a career that holds your interest and is your passion. For me, it was education, but for others, it could be some other career. I am lucky because every day I get to live my dream as an educator and instructional leader. I thank Triton College, Northern Illinois University and Northeastern Illinois University for allowing me to achieve that dream.
What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students?I would tell Triton students to remember that opportunity favors the prepared mind. You will have opportunities in life if you are prepared to receive those opportunities. If you are not, opportunities will simply pass you by. Don’t let those opportunities pass you by.
What are your plans for the future?I hope, in the near future, to complete my doctorate degree in Educational Leadership. Beyond that point, I would like to develop educational programs that foster student achievement and growth for all students. I would like to retire knowing that I had impact on student lives and influenced their academic achievement.
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