Cedar Grove H.S. Teacher Profile: Mike Valenzano


CEDAR GROVE, NJ - “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  This is Cedar Grove High School’s Michael Valenzano’s favorite quote to summarize his philosophy in the classroom, which is clearly reflected with his welcoming smile and his ability to reach his students on a personal level.

Widely known as “Mr. V.” to the students, Valenzano has utilized his past 13 years in the district to build a distinct relationship with the students by connecting with them through the gym, health room, and the driver’s seat.

Valenzano began his career at CGHS in May 2003, starting off with observing Phys. Ed. classes with Coach Ed Sadloch. He began teaching Phys. Ed. in September 2003 at Memorial Middle School. Growing up in Fairfield and attending West Essex High School, Valenzano completed his higher education at Montclair State University where he earned his Masters in Administration & Supervision.

Sign Up for E-News

As a student at West Essex High School, Valenzano was an active member of the baseball team.

“As a Phys. Ed and Health major, with the dual certification, there was a lot to do,” said Valenzano, recalling taking night classes during baseball season and gaining as many credits as possible. “They usually try to tell you it is a five year program, but I figured on my fifth year I could be working, earning, and living, so I worked hard to do it in four years.”

Valenzano, 35, returns home every day to his wife and two children, as he reflects on the current period of time in his life where family, career, and self-awareness come together.“My children will be 7 and 3 years old by the time the summer comes around,” he said. “It’s a good time of life.”

His office walls consist of baby and family pictures and many coaching metals he received over the years.

Aside from teaching Phys. Ed and Health, Valenzano is the only teacher in CGHS able to teach Driver’s Education, a unique course dedicated to teaching the basic skills of driving and enforcing safety regulations and guidelines for high school sophomores bound to take the wheel. From the beginning of freshman year, students await the first class of Driver’s Education. “Driver’s Ed is a clear favorite for me,” he said. “I always tell my students, that I get to teach them something they’ll use every day for the rest of their lives, which is rare to say.”

“He put a big emphasis on safety and being a responsible driver,” said sophomore, Katie Sickinger. However, Mr. V.’s influence exists beyond the teachings of being behind the wheel for the first time. “If you have any problems he’s willing to listen and help you solve them,” she continued.“What Mr. V. has taught me is something I’m going to use forever,” continued sophomore, Anthony Clarizio.

    Valenzano refers to the most rewarding thing about teaching- “When students come back, it’s nice to hear them reaching the goals they had set for themselves; that and when students come back with that laminated piece of paper saying that they got their license.”

Many students expressed their admiration for Valenzano’s ability to truly connect with them.

Whether it is in the gym or in the health room, Valenzano seems to serve as a leader, whose advice is valued. “I view him as kind of a role model, and I really appreciate the things that he does for the kids in our school,” said senior, Chris Werndly. 

“Knowing V. for the past four years now, if you ever need something you go to him. He would really help you out with anything,” said senior, Michael Matarazzo.

Valenzano stresses the importance of trust formulated with his students. For the past 13 years, he created relationships with growing teenagers who still keep in touch with him. “I think the most important part of my career is the relationships I’ve been able to establish with the students,” he said.

“A teacher needs to find it in themselves to lead every day,” said Valenzano. “And to make the students better, because that’s why we’re here.”

Rachel Bucchino and Tara Guaimano are seniors at Cedar Grove High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove.  Verona and Cedar Grove High School students interested in participating in our journalism program can contact Jeanne Moreno at

Did you like this story?

If you did like it, please share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook Page!  Sign up here to have stories like this sent directly to your email for free.  

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Verona/Cedar Grove

Students Demand Action to host 'Day of Action' on Columbine Anniversary at Brookdale Park

April 18, 2018

Students Demand Action Essex County will host “April 20 Day of Action: Gun Reform Education Fair” to educate and inform local students about the need for gun reform in our nation, inspire them to be activists, and honor the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

The April 20 event will take place in at Brookdale Park (lower field by Bellevue entrance) in ...

Cedar Grove Police Blotter

April 25, 2018

April 16, 2018 – April 22, 2018

On April 19, 2018 at 12:44 p.m., Ptl. Jason Rivers stopped a vehicle for speeding along Pompton Avenue. A subsequent investigation revealed that the driver, a 61 year old male from West Orange, had a suspended license and an outstanding traffic warrant. He was arrested processed and released with a summons after posting the required bail.

On April 20, ...

Lock Down Initiated After Stray Bullet Found at Morristown High School

April 25, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  Morristown High School was on a school-wide lock down as of 1 p.m. on Tuesday after a stray bullet was discovered on the athletic fields of the school. 

Police were on the scene and currently investigating the incident. The school initiated a "shelter in place," which means instruction continued as students stayed in their ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Hospital Conference Room 2 (Ground Floor), Glen Ridge

Becoming a Parent

Health & Wellness

Wed, April 25, 7:30 PM

Cedar Grove Public Library , Cedar Grove

The Bellevue Theater: Fade to Black or double ...

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, April 26, 4:00 PM

Alzheimer's NJ Headquarters, Roseland

Alzheimer's 101


Cedar Grove Celebrates Arbor Day

April 24, 2018

CEDAR GROVE, NJ - For Arbor Day again this year, apple trees will be planted at Morgan's Farm.  Please come out to join in a community tree planting event.  Volunteers are asked to please bring shovels.  We’re watching the Apple Orchard grow!

The Township Manager, Thomas Tucci will welcome the volunteers, followed by a flag salute led by Cedar Grove ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...