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Once Higley High graduate, now Higley teacher

Vanessa Blades graduated from Higley High School in 2014. After pursuing higher education, she’s returned to the Higley Unified School District this year to nurture the next generation of leaders as a first-year teacher.

Vanessa always knew she wanted to be a teacher — even as a fourth grader at Power Ranch Elementary. She would ask for extra worksheets to bring home to “play school” with. Now, she is living her dream as Ms. Blades, a third-grade teacher at Centennial Elementary.

Blades said she did her senior project on teaching while at Higley High, and did the whole report based on her experiences shadowing a teacher at Centennial.

“Ever since I was in kindergarten honestly, I would play school and just pretend I was a teacher, and I don’t know, it is just something I’ve always done,” Blades said. “When I was in third grade, I was really shy. I would call myself a teacher’s pet. I always wanted to help grade papers and take home the extra worksheets to play school with.”

She said her passion for teaching always drives her to introduce new and engaging ideas into her students. One such idea that she brought to her classroom was a stage. She constructed a stage with her stepdad over the summer to give students an exciting way to introduce themselves on the first day of school.

No longer playing pretend, she is inspiring Higley’s youth to reach their full potential. She’s also set her goals for her first year of teaching.

“My goal is to just make a difference in the lives of my students. I just want them to know that I care about them, and I want them to be successful and enjoy every moment that they have in my classroom,” she said.