Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Ella Alger and Bella Tomaino
As much of a cliche as it is, when Rascal Flatts said “Life is a highway” they meant it. Through all the twists and turns and bends and breaks of the road, there can be some unexpected blessings along the way. The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy for any of us, but one person it tested the hardest was Wethersfield resident Julie Vardal.
Vardal has lived in the town of Wethersfield her whole life. She grew up and was raised by a single mother and is also one herself with two kids. Prior to March 2020, Vardal was an at-home entrepreneur selling candles for almost 20 years, but when Covid got bad initially she was forced to change her career path.
It can’t be easy to all of a sudden one day have to pick a new profession, but it was inevitable. Her first step was becoming a lunch lady. She didn’t mind it but one thing she definitely learned was the fact that she loved working with children. In her next work year, she transitioned to a paraprofessional position at Highcrest Elementary.
Sometimes working with new people can present some awkwardness at first but not for Vardal. She walked into Mr. Fox’s classroom and right from the jump they clicked. When Mr. Fox submitted his application for Vardal to be a hero he said, “I consider her a co-teacher, not a paraprofessional.” This speaks volumes on behalf of Vardal to see that she takes her job to the next level.
This past winter Mr. Fox had to go out on medical leave and with a substitute teacher shortage, Vardal had to step up to the plate. In many situations this would be an issue, however, Fox said “[I] have no worries at all about our students' learning and safety.” He also said, “I could not do this without her.”
We got the privilege of going to Highcrest and meeting the infamous Vardal. Right when you walk in, you can tell how much the students respect her and how well everyone gets along. The kids played a card game and she went around helping and interacting. With Mr. Fox being out for the past couple of weeks and just coming off winter break, you’d think the kids would be a little behind but you can tell Vardal stepped up and did a tremendous job with the students.
So yes, times can get tough, and struggles will present themselves, but persistence is key. Julie Vardal is a hero to the students, the school, and the community for the incredible things she did in her third-grade classroom.
Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.