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Valerie Garton died at her home on June 29th 2008, after a long battle with cancer. Valerie was 46. She is survived by her husband of 24 years, Kevin Wilson, her daughter, Reed Wilson, her parents Stanley and Joyce Garton, and her brothers, Darryl and Scott Garton.
Val grew up in Centralia and graduated from Centralia High School. She received a bachelors degree in English education and a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri.
Valerie was an educator for Columbia Public Schools beginning her teaching career in 1987 as a language arts teacher at Oakland Junior High School. She was later promoted to English department chair at Oakland and then as the Secondary Language Arts Coordinator in 1999. In 2003, she became the K-12 Language Arts Coordinator for the Columbia Public School district. In addition, Valerie was an adjunct professor in the department of Curriculum and Instructions at the University of Missouri for several years.
Valerie was an avid reader of educational research and devoted herself to the craft of teaching. She also loved to read poetry and was a prolific writer. She was a mentor and role model for many teachers in the district. Her fairness brought unity to a school district of thirty buildings, hundreds of teachers, thousands of children. Yet, in that fairness, she never forgot the importance of the individual. As the K-12 Language Arts Coordinator, Valerie implemented a district-wide curriculum so that the individual needs of all students could be met. When it was time to design the word study curriculum for elementary students, Val studied the research on how a child learns to put letters and sounds together to make words. She guided Columbia teachers through that research and the process of developing the current word study program. Val received accolades for this approach of teaching spelling from the National Organization of Speech-Language Pathologist and from other school districts as far away as Boston. During her career, Val also worked with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the development of model curriculum for language arts. In 2006, Valerie received an award by the International Reading Association for Exemplary Contribution to Literacy Instruction for the state of Missouri. She also received the Ray Lewis Columbia Fund for Academic Excellence for Outstanding Contributor in a Specialized Area in 2008.
Val’s wisdom went beyond her expertise of language arts and curriculum design. It exceeded her understanding of what good teaching was, what children needed in order to learn best, and what the budget could be stretched to buy. She was not only wise about learning, but wise about life. Her unbreakable spirit guided all who knew her to an understanding of living and living life to its fullest. Her life was an inspiration that taught us about the lessons of life, and therefore, made us wiser about ourselves and the world in which we live.
Even though Val enjoyed traveling far and wide with her family and friends, she particularly found peace and solace at her home, 40 acres of woods and pasture outside of town. She loved to take walks with her daughter, Reed, work on the landscape with her husband, Kevin, and watch the numerous animals that visited her land. She loved her dogs, the koi in her pond, and the hummingbirds that came to feed.
Her friends will remember her as selfless. She demanded nothing from life other than the opportunity to give of herself to others.
Val’s family and friend would like to personally thank Missouri Cancer Associates, Dr. Mark Vellek, Dr. Mark Bryer, their nurses, especially Gaye, Julie, Rhonda, Gracie, and Jim; Dr. Charles Bondurant; and Missouri River Home Health and Hospice for their loving care.
Services and barbeque will be held on the Garton-Wilson property at 3650 McGee Rd. on July 12th at 11:00 A.M. Dress casually; bring a folding chair and memories.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Central Missouri Humane Society.