Her actions speak loud for words
Job: Reading specialist at Turtle Elementary School, where the majority of children qualify for free and reduced lunch and up to 50 percent are English language learners
Family: Husband, Tom DuVal; children Emma, 15, Tommy, 12, and Jimmy, 9
Hobbies: Outdoor activities with her family. In the winter, downhill skiing and snowmobiling are their favorites. In the summer, they like to water ski and fish.
Favorite music: Old classic rock including Phil Collins, Journey, Genesis, REO Speedwagon, Boston, America, the Beatles, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Diamond
People from history she'd like to have dinner with: Famous women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Shirley Temple Black or Eleanor Roosevelt
People who inspire her: Great-grandmother Ann Calamia and her mother, Jane Walton. Walton had to raise Julie and her siblings on her own. She managed to keep her family afloat on a secretary's salary.
What makes her success possible: "My job would not be at all possible if it wasn't for my dear husband who puts in 100 percent. He is the world's best husband," DuVal said.
She also credits her friends and family as a "big part" or her success.
What makes her job easier: Her fellow teachers at Turtle Creek. "I could not do my job if it wasn't for their dedication to the students that I service in Reading Recovery. Reading Recovery only works when there is a balance with the classroom instruction. The teachers at Turtle Creek are excellent!"
DELAVAN Scientists tell us that all humans are wired the same.
Heart, lungs, brain and other assorted systems all work together to make us go.
Julie DuVal's friends and co-workers would disagree.
They insist DuVal has a heart for struggling children that's so big that it drives everything else.
"She is the hero of any underdog; she's they're champion," said Lisa Otterbacher. "It's just the way she's wired."
DuVal has worked at Delavan's Turtle Creek Elementary School for 16 years, and for most of that time, she has served as a reading specialist, helping to run programs such as Reading Recovery, the Reads mentoring program and a summer program that gives local kids easy access to books.
As many as 70 percent of the children at Turtle Creek live near or below the poverty line. Up to 50 percent speak English as a second language.
And DuVal wants them all to read above or beyond their grade levels.
DuVal would insist that it's not a crusade. She just likes seeing kids succeed.
"I like working with the kids with the greatest needs," DuVal said. "They're kind of like the underdogs. And when the light goes on in their minds, it's a great feeling."
Her drive is infectious.
"She has a way that empowers and energizes her colleagues," said Janet Green, Turtle Creek principal. "She take the data, the assessments and pours over it all to see who could use additional reading sessions."
Otterbacher was more blunt: "She's like a dog with a bone."
When her son, Calvin, was a kindergartener in Whitewater schools, he used to cry every day because he hated going to school. Things didn't get better in first grade. Every day he got less confident about his abilities.
One day, she was chatting with DuVal about it, just "friend to friend." Immediately, DuVal offered to do some testing.
"For a month, we would drive to Delavan after school, and Julie would work with him on her own time," Otterbacher said.
Using the Reading Recovery method, DuVal helped Calvin move up 10 reading levels—and gave him the skills he needed to succeed.
Calvin, now in middle school, is a solid B student.
DuVal and her co-workers have also developed a summer reading program that allows children to take home bags of books. Many of the kids who use the service live in apartments near the school and wouldn't otherwise get to the library.
During the summer, Tom and Julie DuVals' home in Whitewater becomes the house where all the neighborhood kids hang out.
The rules are simple and strictly enforced: You have to share, and you have to wear a helmet. Kids are also more likely to find a bowl of carrots than a bowl of candy.
"She never considers what she does as gracious; she never asks for anything in return," Otterbacher said. "It's just the way she's wired.