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Meet Your Educator

Surprise art teacher is longtime city resident

Adelman has logged 10 years at Valley Vista High School

Posted 2/15/24

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Meet Your Educator

Surprise art teacher is longtime city resident

Adelman has logged 10 years at Valley Vista High School


Each week The Surprise Independent features a different educator in our city.

Your name: Erika Adelman.

Age: 52.

Town/Neighborhood: Marley Park neighborhood.

What is your title/occupation? Art teacher.

What school or department do you work/volunteer at? Valley Vista High School.

How long have you worked here? Ten years at VVHS, seven at Canyon Ridge Elementary and 10 at Mountain Ridge High School.

What do you like most about your job? Within our art studio, I have strive to create a learning environment filled with collaboration, student choice, diversity in assignments and exploration of culture and community. Time in high school is important for young people as it helps guide them into their future directions. I am not on their path for long, so I treasure the time I do have with each and every individual.

What are you excited about on your campus/in your department and why? The Valley Vista fine arts department is pure magic. We have a team of teachers highly skilled in their craft and passionate about mentoring young artists. The enthusiasm within our team is boundless and it radiates out into the classrooms. The students thrive in our programs and there is nothing more satisfying then seeing a group of teenagers working together to create performances for themselves and for the community to enjoy.

When and why you moved here? I have lived in Surprise since 2002. I have lived in the Phoenix area since I was 2 years old.

Where you lived prior to moving? I have lived in different parts of the Phoenix area.

What do you like most about living here? I moved to Surprise in 2002 when our town was much smaller and dirt roads were in every direction. I have really enjoyed watching the area grow. It is much busier now, but still maintains the smaller town feeling. Wonderful to see familiar faces every place I go.

What changes would you like to see in this area? We seem to have a great balance already in progress. Shopping, dining, athletics, arts and family centered opportunities keep growing.

Favorite community cause and why? Animal rescue is very important to me.

Who is in your family? My son, Austin, is a 2020 graduate from Valley Vista and will be completing his performing arts degree from ASU this spring.

What are your interests and hobbies? I love to travel, find adventures, decorate, create art, watch shows and go to the gym.

If you could pick another occupation, what would it be? Flight attendant. I might still do this when I retire from teaching.

Describe one of the happiest moments in your life: Easy. The day my son was born. There hasn’t been a moment even close to that since. Being a mother has been my greatest joy.

What is your best and worst habit? I call myself an organized free spirit. I am always going back and forth from extreme planner to super spontaneous. It can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. It is not uncommon for me to get lost on one of my unplanned adventures, but I will have great photos or souvenirs to remember the day.

What traits do you admire in others? Honest, courageous, confident ... and a sense of humor.

Who is a person that inspires you and why? My sister, Cyndi. She is the most beautiful person I know. She taught self contained students for 30 years in a small California town, raised two incredible children and puts everyone before herself. She is a cheerleader to everyone she knows and leads her life with grace, intention and strength.

What is your guiding philosophy? To lead with positivity, good intentions, joy and grace.

What is your advice for today’s youth? Create a life filled with joy, kindness and hard work.