Hispanic Heritage Month brings an exciting energy to Dalton Public Schools as numerous members of our staff and students boast strong connections to the Hispanic community.
Veronica Vital serves as the assistant principal at Blue Ridge School. Vital said she leverages her rich cultural background and personal experiences to connect with students in a way that fosters a deep sense of understanding.
She said that experiencing Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations would have had a profound impact on her as a child. Especially the recent Jaguar walk at her school, where students proudly held flags symbolizing their backgrounds.
Vital lived in Mexico City until she was around two years old before her parents relocated to the United States with her and her older brother.
Vital enrolled in school in Murray County and initially faced significant challenges because neither she nor her brother understood English.
“My brother and I were the only two Hispanics in the school that I remember,” Vital said. “I think when I went to first grade, there was one more student that came in. Then in second grade, there was another Hispanic student in my classroom, but then he moved, so it wasn’t long that he was in there.”
By the age of nine, Vital frequently assisted her parents and siblings, acting as their interpreter and aiding with homework tasks. This responsibility proved challenging for her, as she often had to translate vocabulary she didn't fully grasp herself.
“I remember having to set up my own classroom using old wood my dad had there and buckets,” Vital said. “I would flip them over and make those desks and chairs and help my siblings and sometimes my cousins to teach them English and to help them with homework.”
She wasn’t aware at the time, but Vital's early experiences in her makeshift school would go on to ignite a lifelong passion for educating others.
Vital has worked for Dalton Public Schools for 11 years. She began her career as a paraprofessional before becoming a pre-kindergarten teacher, then a kindergarten teacher, ESOL teacher, and lead ESOL teacher, all at Park Creek School. This is Vital’s first year as assistant principal at Blue Ridge School, and she's widely praised for her outstanding ability to inspire students.
Vital cherishes memories of her family joining in the lively December and January festivities in Mexico, marked by elaborate feasts, colorful parades, and spirited dances during her upbringing. She said she also appreciates the profound meaning, intricate decorations, and the overall beauty of Dia de los Muertos celebrations.
Vital shared that she once hesitated to share her personal story, considering herself one of the few Hispanic children in her previous environment. However, now that she is part of Dalton Public Schools, where Hispanic Heritage and culture are openly embraced and valued, she feels comfortable doing so.
Stay tuned as we continue observing Hispanic Heritage Month by showcasing the wonderful staff that make up our district.