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Meet Our Teachers and Staff

Coordinating Intervention and the Magnet Program

by Nicholas Phuong & Edwin Huerta

Nicholas Edwin


If you have been at Vena for a while, you probably have met the new Magnet Coordinator and Intervention Coordinator, Ms. Saldaña.  It is Ms. Saldaña’s first year at Vena, so this is a whole new experience for her. 


Ms. Saldaña spends half of each week as the Magnet Coordinator, and half of each week as the Intervention Coordinator.  According to Ms. Saldaña, she loves switching between magnet and intervention.  Vena’s Principal, Mrs. Baron, says, “I knew she would be a great fit all along.”


As the Magnet Coordinator, Ms. Saldaña makes sure there are enough students in the magnet program.  She also helps parents by giving them tours of the magnet classes.  Willan Armes, a fifth grader, says Ms. Saldaña does a very good job coordinating the magnet program.  Mrs. Baron says, “She has a strong work ethic.  She’s oftentimes here working late to make sure that everything is getting done.”


As the Intervention Coordinator, Ms. Saldaña helps kindergarten through fifth grade students with reading skills and strategies.  She checks their reading scores on DIBELS to see if they need extra help.  Fifth grader Juliet Ramirez says intervention is fun and helpful.  “I am learning how to read more fluently.”  Kids go to room 7 for intervention.


Ms. Saldaña has had a lot of experience teaching.  She has been a Title 1 Coordinator, a Title 3 Coordinator, a teacher in South Los Angeles, a Common Core expert, an Instructional Coach, and a teacher in the UCLA Community School.  “It is my first time being a Magnet Coordinator.  I’ve been a Title 1 Coordinator like Mr. Quevedo, but it’s my first time as a Magnet Coordinator,” says Ms. Saldaña. 


If Ms. Saldaña was not a Magnet Coordinator, she would want to be a doctor working in other countries helping families in need.  But for now, Ms. Saldaña plans to stay at Vena for a few years.  Samantha Noverola, a third grader, says Ms. Saldaña is very nice, and she hopes she never leaves. 




Vena’s Plant Manager

by Syriah Sanchez & Katherine Diaz Govea

Syrian kathy


Vena has a new Plant Manager.  Mr. Rodarte, also known as Mr. Fermin, has helped this school improve ever since he got the job in January 2016.  He helps keep the Vena campus clean, including the restrooms, auditorium, and office.  In addition to cleaning, Mr. Rodarte waters the trees and plants, and he also helps with some mechanical problems.  From ceiling lights to cracks in the yard, Mr. Rodarte can fix it!


100 Percent


Mr. Rodarte does a lot to help out the school.  Mr. Quevedo, Vena’s Title 1 Coordinator, says Mr. Rodarte is 100 percent committed to getting the job done.  “Whenever someone asks him to do something, he does it.”  Mr. Quevedo also says, “If Mr. Rodarte doesn’t finish his job, he will come back on the weekend to finish it.”  Mr. Rodarte says the most challenging part of his job is the mornings, because that’s when he works alone.  Later in the day Mr. Cobieya, the Buildings and Grounds Worker, arrives to do the afternoon and evening shift.


Spotless School


Students admire the work that Mr. Rodarte does at Vena.  “Mr. Rodarte is very, very good at his job, and since it’s clean, it makes more kids want to come,” said Jaden Fletcher, a fourth grader.  In the morning after students eat breakfast, Mr. Rodarte goes around the school emptying all of the trash cans near each classroom.  At lunch, Mr. Rodarte collects the students’ cardboard trays and milk cartons for recycling.   


Mr. Rodarte doesn’t only keep the school clean, he fixes things, too.  “I’m very good at fixing things,” he says.  When a plastic light cover was hanging in room 9 earlier in the year, he came right away to fix it.  In addition, Mr. Rodarte helps with mechanical problems.  For example, before the holiday program he hung all of the decorations in the auditorium that no one else could reach.  He also unfolded the risers for the performers and put them in place. 


Past, Present, and Future


Mr. Rodarte hasn’t always worked at Vena.  For a period of time he was in the military.  He also used to work at a glass company, but then he wanted to do something different.  That’s when he chose to work at Vena.  He says he’s happy working at Vena, and he enjoys working with the staff and students.  Mr. Rodarte says that everyone is nice to him.


One of the many things that Mr. Rodarte does while working at Vena is call in the cracks on the playground.  He also fixes broken lights, and walks around the entire school checking for graffiti.  His favorite part of the job is making sure the lunch area is clean.  Fifth grader Angel Figueroa says, “I see Mr. Rodarte working hard for this school, and to keep this school clean.” 

A New Fifth Grade Teacher

by Giovanni Rodriguez & Tyler Luangpheth

Gio Tyler

Vena has hired a new fifth grade teacher.  Her name is Mrs. Yu.  This is her first year teaching at Vena, but not her first time being a teacher.  “It’s a lot of fun to work at Vena.  The teachers are very nice and supportive.  I like how all of the teachers have such great ideas,” says Mrs. Yu.


Mrs. Yu began working at Vena just after the 2016-2017 school year began.  She wanted to become a teacher because she knew she would like working in a classroom with students.  She says she is interested in the academic side of teaching.  “I think she’s doing very, very well,” says Ms. Osorio, another fifth grade teacher at Vena.


Mrs. Yu used to work at Burton Elementary School teaching fifth grade.  She worked there for two weeks before she was displaced.  Then she came to Vena.  “I loved it because my class was so small, even though that was the reason I was displaced.” 


Being a teacher was not Mrs. Yu’s only job.  She was also a one-on-one behavior therapist working with students on the autism spectrum.  She enjoyed working with students with special needs. 


Mrs. Osorio says that one of Mrs. Yu’s strengths is that she is open to new ideas, and is willing to try new things. 


Mrs. Yu tries to make learning fun.  She gives “shake breaks” when her students work hard for a very long time.  They dance, exercise, and play games to get ready for a test.  Sometimes they play a game called “Garbage Ball” where they throw a ball into a bin to get points.  Mrs. Yu’s favorite subject to teach is math because students learn different ways to solve problems.  Mrs. Yu says her students are nice, independent, and at times, loud. 


Angel Figueroa, a student in Mrs. Yu’s class, says, “I feel good about my teacher because she’s a good teacher, and sometimes she pushes us because she cares about our education.”  Destiny Esteban, a classmate, says, “I would describe her as a hard working teacher that cares about her students’ education.”  Juliet Ramirez, also one of Mrs. Yu’s students, says she was concerned when she had to switch teachers at the beginning of the year.  “I felt very nervous because I didn’t know if I was gonna get a good teacher or a bad teacher.”  Today she describes Mrs. Yu as supportive, kind, generous, and respectful. 


Mrs. Yu wants to continue teaching fifth grade at Vena.  She wants to teach fun, educational activities to future students.  Her goal is to become an even better and stronger teacher. 

Ms. Debuque’s Time to Shine

by Ashley Mercado & Samara Chavez

samara Ashley


Ms. Debuque is a second grade magnet teacher at Vena Elementary School, and in 2016 she was named one of 22 Teachers of the Year within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).


Ms. Debuque has been teaching at Vena for twenty years.  “I’m very happy that Ms. Debuque was selected,” said Mrs. Baron, Vena’s Principal.  She said everyone should know that one of the best teachers is here at Vena.  Cynthia Sosa, one of Ms. Debuque’s current students is glad that her teacher is one of the Teachers of the Year.  “I feel happy because she is my teacher,” she says.


The California Teachers of the Year program has been running since 1972.  It’s the nation’s oldest program focusing public attention on excellence in teaching.  Last year, many teachers filled out an application to become an LAUSD Teacher of the Year.  On June 6, 22 teachers, including Ms. Debuque, were named LAUSD Teacher of the Year.  These teachers were recognized at an awards luncheon on September 16 with other school district winners and Los Angeles County winners. 


“It’s important to recognize people who are doing an excellent job in their profession,” said Mrs. Baron.  Ms. Debuque is in charge of the magnet school’s Poetry Night, the Holiday Program, Accelerated Reader, the Talent Show, Music Club, and Vena’s website.  “I think a lot of people sometimes don’t realize the extra work that teachers are doing every day,” said Mrs. Baron. 


One of Ms. Debuque’s former students, third grader Alicia Avalos, felt excited for Ms. Debuque when she heard the news.  Alex Bryant, a fifth grader, and also a former student, says, “Ms. Debuque works so hard to be a great teacher, so I think she deserves to be Teacher of the Year.”


When Ms. Debuque was little she did not want to be a teacher.  Her mother was a teacher, and she wanted a different career.  Ms. Debuque wanted to be a ballerina.  When she grew up, she found out that a ballerina’s career is short, so she decided to become a teacher.  “I guess my mom’s lessons just stayed inside me, and deep in me a teacher was hidden.” 


“When I retire, I want to do my own creative projects,” said Ms. Debuque.  She wants to do something like write a book or make a music CD.  “My favorite thing about teaching is watching my kids grow,” says Ms. Debuque.  She hopes all of her students succeed in their lives.