New, but Not-so-New: CCHS Welcomes Long-Time Swim Coach to Staff

Gregory+Valley+poses+with+Lorri+Reynolds%2C+while+receiving+a+state+swim+trophy.

Photo courtesy of Gregory Valley.

Gregory Valley poses with Lorri Reynolds, while receiving a state swim trophy.

Sirianna Blanck, Staff Writer

Mr. Gregory Valley is the newest social studies teacher at Chamblee, teaching World Geography, Civics, and AP European History. While he may be new to Chamblee as a faculty member, many students have already spent years as his student. From his time at Chamblee Middle to coaching the swim team and sponsoring water polo here at the high school, Valley is not new to Chamblee. In fact, Valley grew up in Atlanta and went to high school at Chamblee himself. 

“I think one of the things I love about social studies is just knowing about the world, [and seeing] how groups [of students] work together to achieve their goals and how groups can get more accomplished by working together, ” said Valley.

Teachers always have their favorite projects, their favorite trips, their favorite units. Valley described taking his students to BizTown, a trip all Chamblee Middle students spend time preparing for. Valley said his favorite part was seeing the skills his students got to develop through the trip and the fun memories they made.

“One of my favorite things was in the last six or seven years. We always take our sixth-grade students to […] Junior Achievement BizTown and I think that has just been one of my favorite experiences that we’ve done over the years. It is an opportunity where we invest three weeks into preparing for the visit into practicing personal finance skills, and then when we get there, [we get] to see […]  how much fun everybody has, along with the fact that they’ve developed in their skills.” said Valley. 

Valley sees social studies as more than just a history lecture. His favorite experiences from student interactions to large school trips show that he’s a teacher that wants to be working with his students, not a screen. 

“I’d say my favorite thing to do is just [interacting] with the students. Just getting to see when somebody has had a difficult time with something and they suddenly get it. That’s what’s really one of the most rewarding things,” said Valley. “ Because I spent most of my time in sixth grade, a lot of times [a student’s struggle] can be based on organization. You get organized and you can see how they take that and are able to carry forward success, ”

Organization is important to Valley. Not only does he describe it as the key to a successful plan in the classroom, but his swim team can see this as well in his coaching. Along with teaching students at Chamblee Middle School how to get organized for the past ten years, Valley has been co-coaching swimming and sponsoring water polo in recent years here at Chamblee High. 

“His organization makes him a great coach! He is always prepared for everything and takes the time [to make sure] that his swimmers are prepared. For example, he sends out extremely detailed emails about everything swim-related, which can be really helpful with a large team like ours,” said Mary Adam, a senior at Chamblee. 

Valley gave some advice to students about how to do your best in virtual school. Not only is organization important to him, but communication in a virtual environment is an important factor. 

“The biggest thing that students can do as we start this school year is to reach out to the teachers,” said Valley. “ If you have questions about something, we want the students to reach out. The biggest thing that we can do to set everybody up for success is to communicate early. […] There’s nothing more frustrating than working on an assignment and then realizing you haven’t done it correctly or just not knowing where to start. ”

Success takes many factors, but reaching out to teachers may help many students from struggling more than they have to and to turn those F’s into A’s. 

Quarantine made many people pick up new hobbies, but Valley’s hobby of swimming came long before and continued through these hard times. A lifelong swimmer and coach, Valley’s daily routine always includes some laps in the pool. He started coaching in high school and hasn’t stopped since. 

 “Between swimming and water polo, we keep that pool pretty busy during the year,” said Valley about the water sports at Chamblee. 

Valley’s favorite part of the swim season are the meets, due to the large crowd and team sizes that create a lively, cheerful, and fun atmosphere. In fact, those three adjectives are exactly how students describe him as a coach. 

“He’s one of the nicest coaches I’ve ever had in any sport, and he’s always super optimistic all the time!” said Junior, Stiles Logan.

With over 300 swim team members, Valley has coached a lot of swimmers. Throughout his years of coaching, Valley has learned how to inspire and connect with his swimmers. In fact, the Chamblee Swim and Dive team were State Champions in 2019. 

“I think Coach Valley found the perfect balance between tough love and being cheerful. He knows when we need to straighten up and be put into places as opposed to when we need to be encouraged and given endorsement,” said 11th grade swim team member Brian Roberts.

Valley’s time with the swim and water polo teams makes him no stranger to Chamblee. Despite the struggle to make virtual school the best it can be, Valley’s organization and inspiring attitude are sure to make him one of the most promising new faces at our school.