Think all teachers are boring? PSYCH.


Photo by: Sarah Flores

Sarah Florez

– A guest submission by VHS senior, Sarah Florez –

To most students, it may be surprising to discover that your favorite teacher on campus has hopped a nine foot fence, was a truant kindergartener, and sympathizes with a six year old delinquent.

If this teacher doesn’t sound familiar, you may know her better as the optimistic and radiant Alicia Verdades.

One optimistic saying from Verdades is, “Life is crazy and stressful, and you think it’s the end of the world, but then it’s okay, your friends help you and everything is alright. You think it’s the end of the world, but keep going. Never give up, never surrender.”

As Ventura High School’s resident psychology teacher and student confidant, Verdades inspires her students, niece, and all those near her, to persevere through hardships and nurture relationships with others and themselves.

When asked what wisdom she would pass onto her students, she said, “Life has ups, life has downs, what matters is the people you’re with. Reach out to others, be with others, experience things with others, spend more time nurturing your relationships than your property, we reverse that, but it’s not what you’ll remember at the end of your life.”

VHS senior Cody Beeson said, “She’s very relatable, connecting everything to her own life.”

Senior AP psychology student, Karina Inda, said, “She radiates compassion and is ultimately the representation of a humble human being.”

Verdades is well-known for sharing wild stories and personal experiences with her students, making it easy for them to connect with her.

Verdades also discusses her ideal school day. She describes her academic utopia as a place of “talk and discussion, when kids have questions and we go down paths I didn’t know we were going to go down. They bring up new ideas and new knowledge when everyone is passionate and they want knowledge.” Photo by: Sarah Florez

When asked how she establishes these personal connections with her students, she pondered and explained,  “I’m genuine. I’m not putting on a front, what I share is true and real. Humans respond to that.”

Surprisingly, Verdades does have a more secretive area of her life.

She loves art, but explained, “In my family -because we have so much bipolar- they thought the creativity would bring out madness. But now we support them to do their art. Now we know it’s a symptom of your illness, you want to express. Art is a private intimate thing for me, my shame probably so connecting it to madness. I wouldn’t be so open and free in an art class than I am in a psychology class. Isn’t that weird?”

But in the classroom, you would never know that the confident, storytelling Verdades has any qualms.

When asked about embarrassing work moments, she immediately opened up and shared, “On my way to school, I jumped over a nine foot fence. You’re on top of a fence, what are you gonna do?”

When discussing her childhood, she even dives into the story of how she was blacklisted in kindergarten. She would leave class, not realizing the severity of a six year old simply leaving school, “There was a little dog, I would play with the dog all day and when I saw the kids leaving school I’d go back to my house. After that, they saw me as this little terror that had to be watched.”

Experiences like this have helped her understand and counsel her six year old nephew when he began misbehaving at school.

Discussing the more challenging aspect of her job, Verdades explained that she meets “Real humans with real problems and real pain. I know [students] need help, but there is not enough money for the therapy people need. Help is out there, but we can’t access it.”

How did Verdades come from a rocky, rebellious childhood and become an enlightened psychology teacher that watercolors, leads leather crafting in her niece’s fourth grade class, and spends her free time in nature with her dogs?

Her most valuable advice appears simple, “Nurture ourselves, good food, good exercise, good sleep. [It’s] easy to say, not to do. Honor yourself like you would other people, like if you were not doing well I’d try to help you, but sometimes when we’re not doing well, we ignore it, we don’t help ourselves.”