Staff Spotlight: Valerie Raines
We created a Staff Spotlight series to bring recognition of the many amazing guides and administrators while connecting with them in a personal way.
This month, we honor
Valerie Raines has been with Hershey Montessori School since 2015. She serves as our College Counselor to Upper School students and families. She works with students from grades ten through twelve as they make plans for their life after high school. Valerie provides advice and support in navigating college selections, college admissions, scholarships, and financial aid.
Valerie’s career includes three decades of service in education and philanthropy with positions at Laurel School, Oberlin College, Connecticut College, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, United Way, and KeyBank Foundation. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University and her master’s degree at Case Western Reserve University. She is also president of VRaines Consulting.
Her knowledge, expertise, and passion for what she does makes for an invaluable gift we are all grateful for at Hershey.
Check out our interview with Valerie below.
Where are you from and where do you now live?
I grew up in Cleveland, and lived in Illinois and Connecticut. I have traveled to most U.S. states and across Canada. I’ve also been to South America, Africa, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
What did you do before coming to Hershey?
I worked in admissions at Connecticut College and Oberlin College. I was college counselor at Laurel School (my alma mater). At KeyBank Foundation, I facilitated grants for education programs.
What brought you to Hershey?
I met Laurie and Jim Ewert-Krocker at a gala for Montessori High School in Cleveland. At the time, Hershey was looking for a college counselor for the new Upper School.
What drew you to Montessori?
My son attended Ruffing Montessori School in Cleveland Heights. As a college admissions recruiter, I visited hundreds of schools that felt like cinderblock tunnels where students had factory-like experiences. I knew I didn’t want that for my child and that all children deserved better learning environments and experiences.
What is your favorite part of your work at Hershey?
I love celebrating with 12th graders when college acceptances arrive. I also love getting started with 10th graders because we begin earlier than other schools and the students are so excited!
What is your favorite Hershey memory?
Our day trips on the Hershey bus to visit nearby colleges with our students: Allegheny, Wooster, Kent State, Hiram, Cleveland State, Case Western Reserve, Lakeland Community College, Oberlin, John Carroll, and Mount Union. I love hearing their oohs and aahs as they discover what is possible at colleges.
Where is your favorite place to go?
I long for the spectacular fireworks in Sydney, Australia every New Year’s Eve!
What is your favorite thing to do?
I love summer festivals for jazz and theater in Canada.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I’ve been cutting my own hair during COVID (don’t inspect too closely).
Who has made the biggest impact in your life and what does that impact look like?
I have benefited from a loving family and strong network of educators my whole life. I am inspired by how they have gone extra miles to foster and celebrate my successes.
What is your favorite book?
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I still wonder about those characters.
What is your favorite quote?
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Dr. Martin Luther King in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
What is your favorite movie?
Fences, based upon the play by August Wilson, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.
How would your friends and family describe you?
Caring, determined, always learning.
How would you describe yourself?
Always looking for ways to address big problems.
What is your happiest moment?
Seeing my son graduate (high school and college).
What is your biggest life lesson you would like to share with others?
Adapt to what life calls upon you to do and find the lessons in each situation you are in.
That is great advice and profound wisdom, Valerie.
Thank you for taking time to share with us. On behalf of students, families, and all Hershey staff, we appreciate you and greatly value what you bring to our community!