Valerie J. Connell
CONNELL, VALERIE J., Val was a beloved teacher, and a courageous role model to friends and family alike. Born in St. Joseph, MI, June 21, 1953 to William and Jean Brooks Connell. She is survived by two brothers, William F. Connell of Montrose, California and Michael P. Connell of Edwardsburg, Michigan, also partner Lenora Ledwon and daughter Dakota Connell Ledwon. She graduated from Edwardsburg Michigan High School and went in to the U.S. Army. During her school years, Val excelled in horsemanship and won many awards starting with 4H programs, then joining the Michigan Appaloosa Association and the Michigan Association of Western Horse Clubs. Some of her top achievements include winning at the Michigan State Fairs, winning at the Grand National Horse Show in Chicago, Illinois, and the Dixie Grand National at Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the Military Police Academy, Val went on to a career in industry as a Production Foreman and then Master Scheduler for Uniroyal Plastics. However, she still harbored a dream of becoming a teacher. Val received her B.S. in Management from Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana in 1992 and her M.S. in Counseling from Fort Valley State, Georgia in 1995. She became a Social Studies teacher at Palm Springs Middle School in Hialeah, and later became Dept. Chair. At Palm Springs Middle, Val was known for her lively Legal Studies classes, in which students put on complete Mock Trials in front of distinguished judges such as former Atty General Bob Butterworth. In 2004 she was one of 25 teachers chosen state-wide to take part in the Florida Supreme Court's Justice Teaching Institute. She continued to teach, even when her cancer rendered her too weak to walk unaided. Her life and courage were the best lessons any student could ask for. Val is survived by her daughter, her partner, her parents, her two brothers, and many former students and colleagues. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital. We love you, Val! Godspeed! Friends may visit at Fred Hunter Funeral Home Davie, Monday from 4-8pm. A funeral mass will be held Tuesday, 10:00am at Saint David Catholic Church. To visit this Guest Book Online, go to
Published by the Miami Herald on Nov. 23, 2008.
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18 Entries
Ms.Connel was the toughest teacher i've possibly ever had.
im a freshman now, and i finaly realize what it was that she was talking about. "it doesnt get any easier! it just gets harder and harder" and it does; it has. She in a way taught me not to slack off, her class was packet after packet and i know that anyone who had her would know what i was talking about. haha. Last year (8th grade year) i would get super angry but now i appreciate it. Im in Highschool now and the kind of work given is given ms.connell style.
im proud and glad to have known a woman who fought for everything and anything that she believed in. But dispite the wants and the sadness of not having her; she wont be going back to that horrible pain that she had to go through every day. with appointments and what not. Shes in peace and at rest. God bless you.
You will be missed dearly
tatiana arredondo
January 1, 2009
I will forever be your Judy Tenuta R.I.P. you will be missed
Arelys Rivero
January 1, 2009
Ms.Connell has been the most inspirational person in my life. And for that, I thank her. Thank you for taking the blinds off my eyes and letting me see the world. You were more than a teacher to me, you were like a second mother. I will miss you truly and may you rest in peace.
Saralee Morales
November 25, 2008
Ms. Connell was the best person I had ever met. She always made her students laugh and helped anyone if they ever had a rough day. She was always there for her students and was a great friend. She was an awesome person and was an inspiration to everyone.
We will miss you dearly and you'll be in our hearts forever.
Linda Nunez
November 24, 2008
I had Ms. Connell my 7th grade year. She was an amazing teacher. Even though she was tough, we knew that it was because she believed we are capable of so much more than any other teacher I knew. Ms. Connell was the first teacher to inspire me to learn the laws and even how life works. She prepared me for life. There was a never a dull moment in her class, it was always interesting and fun! I'm going to miss Ms. Connell. My best wishes to her family and may God bless them on this time.
Jeanhely McRea
November 24, 2008
Dear Ms.Connell, its Manny. Just so happened to be I talked to you on Wednesday. I miss you so much. You did soo much for us. You are the person who turned me into who I am today and you also took off my "horse blinds." I clearly remember the things we had done for each other. I would arrive in your class in the morning and make your coffee just the way you like it. 2 of the spoons you have in your bag and 4 cups of water with 2 sugars in each cup.
I would stay 15 minutes after school to help you take that heavy wheelchair of yours to the bed of your truck. Plus I also got to drive it!! Sometimes I would run to my bus as fast as I could, at the other end of the school. Other times I would miss it and you would take me home which would be most of the times. Man you drive good!!! I remember the times you left for weeks and weeks to come and I managed to finish the 3 Chapters you wanted us to, with my class atleast. I would write all the benchmarks on the board and the lesson plan. Then start yapping away just like you would.
I loved coming to your class in the mornings during primetime and help you do things. We managed to finish the projects. All the periods put the projects up on the walls until the end of the year when I brought them down. I also packed all your belongings and put them neatly into the back of the class.
There was one day when you where there and you had a surprise for me in the morning. I begged and begged for you to tell me but you didn't 5 minutes until the bell. I've never seen you a teacher give such a nice gift than that. You had given me an iPod inscribed "Thank You Manny, Ms.C" The expressions on my face were inexplainable!! all the things you did for me and the things I did for you because we loved each other to death! You also managed to cover my behind once or twice when I ran into trouble.
You gave the best andvice any student could ever receive and made sure they were on track. At the begginning of the year I didnt like you that much but then I got to know you. You are the best teacher every single student could ever have and could ever be. I remember the day you told me when I nedded advice, "Manny, look at me. I would walk over fire for you. I would drown if it was necessary and even climb Mt.Everest for you." That really had touched my heart. You will always have a place in my heart, locked away where only I can destroy and no one else can't. I love you Ms.Connell! R.I.P.
Manny Gonzalez
November 24, 2008
Mrs. Connell was one of the greatest teachers I have ever had, and that rarely ever happens. I had my 8th grade year in 2007-08. She inspired me so much to work hard to go for what I want in life. Mrs. Connell may have been hard on us, but she was like that for a positive reason, not just for fun. She made the class feel like one big family. Not one person was left out of our family. I enjoyed my time in her class, i just wish i had more time to be with her, and speak with her, i wish there was just one more day to think back to the best and hard times. She has played a major role in my life, and NO one will take that spot. I love you Dusty Bear! May you Rest In Peace. -Nick
Nicholas Ferrera
November 24, 2008
I never had Ms. Connell for any of the mandatory Social Studies courses, but I had her as a teacher during 2003-04, my 8th grade year, when I chose her Law Studies class as an elective. That class truly changed my life. Ms. Connell was so much more than a teacher--she was a friend to us. She was there for us whenever we needed someone to listen to our woes, and she offered her help whenever and however she could.

Ms. Connell, I'm sorry I never took the time to go back and visit you.. I really do miss you, and I think of you more often than you probably knew. I'm glad my year's Law Studies class made you so proud, you dubbed us your "best so far." I will never forget you nor the life lessons you taught me.

--Maria J De Leon-Cuevas
Maria De Leon-Cuevas
November 24, 2008
Valerie J. Connell was one of the biggest inspirations in my life. She helped me become the strong person that I am today. She taught me to speak my mind and to not be afraid to stand up for what I believe in. She will forever be in my heart as that strong polar bear who shook me out of my shell so that I could go forth and make a difference in the world.

Kalindhi Larios
November 23, 2008
Hey ms connel is daylene i remeber wen i first got in 8th grade an i had u as a teacher i was like is gonna be a rough year it was but you always look out for ur students and taught us a lesson even me and i hope you are in a better place ms connel ill miss u :) R.I.P
Daylene Nodarse
November 23, 2008
Ms.connell this is juliette speakinq munchkin let me tell you how much i admire you && appriacate all the help you qave me im sure will miss you so much. omq. you were one heck of a teacher yu were the best im qoinq too miss you so much. i hope that up there yu are relax && in piece. there is so much yu said too me too look out for in hiqhschool && im qlad that everysinqle of your word help me alot. im qoinq too miss you soo much i will always have you in mind love juliette aka munchkin
Juliette Rodriguez
November 23, 2008
I had Ms.Connell My 7th grade year in Palm Springs Middle School. She was an amazing civics teacher and a Great Friend. She made become a better person with her teachings. Even if she did scare me quite the few times, it all payed off in the end. Her sence of humor Was the best, But her love and appreciation towards the students well being will be missed.
May God Be With You.
Beatriz Chamizo
November 23, 2008
I had Ms. Connell as a teacher in 7th and 8th grade in Palm Springs. She helped me break out of my shell and into the person I am today. I owe her so much. I love and respect her as a teacher and a human being.
November 23, 2008
Ms. Connell was one of the best teachers I have come across through out my years...Her teaching style was awesome, it made me skip classes just to go to her class, she knew me as the rebel but saw the best of me... the Mock trials had to be among the best... I will miss you
Jennifer H
November 23, 2008
My name's Kevin & i aswell had Ms. Connell throughout my 3 years in middle school . She was an inspiration and a friend. I Love You Ms. Conell and you'll always be in my heart.
Kevin Bouzamayor
November 23, 2008
Ms. Connell was one of the most influential teachers I've ever had. She will be missed. R.I.P
Jennifer C
November 23, 2008
I've missed you ever since I left middle school.
November 23, 2008
I had Ms. Connell in 7th grade for Civics class. I am now a junior in highschool. She was a great teacher, not to mention her sense of humor. She will be missed.
Nicole Baltuch
November 23, 2008
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