English teacher Michele Wallace moves to middle school

Katianna Mansfield

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English teacher Michele Wallace moves to middle school

Before the school year ended, a day came along that was very painful for many kids, and most of all, English teacher Michele Wallace. Having cried in every hour, exhausted from the tears, beloved student Mohamed Haji walked in at the end of the day, and Wallace broke down crying.

This was the day she informed her students that she would be leaving FHC.

Due to an increase in the maximum size of classes and a decrease in the size of the incoming freshman class, English teacher Michele Wallace was moved to the middle school. She said that it was a painful experience for her, but she’s trying to keep a positive outlook.

“I think, even with the hard times, if we grow from it, then it’s good,” Wallace said. “I have to say, it hasn’t been easy.”

She was informed before the end of the school year that she might be leaving the high school after eight years of teaching English, and that she had the chance to interview with principal Glenn Mitcham for a position at the middle school.

Having optimal experience teaching middle school, nine years to be precise, and actually having taught at Central Middle, she was chosen as the instructor to replace Cheryl Blackington after her retirement.

Strangely enough, that is how she entered the high school. She had been part time at both the middle school and the high school for two years, but then an English teacher retired, and she asked the principal at the time for their position.

“When I left [the middle school], it wasn’t like I was running away from here, I was running to something,” Wallace said. “I wasn’t leaving something I didn’t want, I was going towards something that I had always wanted to do.”

She moved up to the high school six years ago and enjoyed it immensely. She preferred the elevated conversation standard, the curriculum, the way of thinking, but what she mostly misses now is being able to see her students two or three years after having them in class.

“I have a tendency to get very attached to my students,” Wallace said, “so when they leave me, I can still see them for two years. It’s so rewarding for me to watch them grow from those young freshman who are still goofy to the amazing young women and men that they do become.”

Wallace does enjoy teaching middle schoolers, but the transfer was difficult for her. She held out for a long time thinking something would change, but that was not the case.

She did not understand why she had been chosen to leave the building, but her positive outlook is getting her through the transition.

“[My initial thought] and these are just feelings, not rational, but I felt angry, a little not wanted. Those are just your emotions that you grapple with, and I was really sad,” Wallace explained, “There were probably other underlying [reasons I was let go]; I don’t know, but I would rather not focus on the negative.”

With how many students who hold her near and dear to their heart at the high school level, many of them believe she has the power to make a large impact on the younger audience.

“She will do a great job for the kids at the middle school,” Mohamed said. “I wish she was still here. I hated English, and she is the reason why I don’t anymore.”

Wallace was a compassionate teacher for her students, and Mohamed says she understood him and his situation with soccer or work and would help him or let him stay after school to finish his work.

Students like Mohamed who wish for her return may not realize how challenging the transition has been in her eyes, how much her thought process has changed.

“The disappointment will probably always be there,” Wallace said, “but I’m trying to replace that with something more positive. You don’t have many choices. You can be in a fixed mindset where you are angry and bitter and I would be miserable, the students would be miserable, and that’s not what I got into teaching for.”

As a woman living a lifetime with this type of positive outlook, it enabled her to see the good in even the worst of situations.

She believes that in her personality and nature, she has a “strong need to be needed and effective” which contributed to her being upset about the transfer because she had not yet realized her potential purpose.

“I can’t remember exactly which student, but one of them said to me,’They need you down there Mrs. Wallace, it’ll be good,’” Wallace said. “I don’t know if that student realized that they gave me a huge gift by saying that. It allowed me to think it was going to be okay, that this was happening for a reason.”

For someone who has gone through such a difficult experience, Wallace has great hopes for the rest of the school year.

“If [the school year] goes like yesterday, it’s going to be really good,” she said after her third day at the middle school.

She talked about her new classes, students, and coworkers with admiration and pride. They have welcomed her with open arms and understood the transition she was going through quite well.

Wallace knows in her heart that she is going to have tough days, but life and students have shown her that she has a job, one that she enjoys doing. Perhaps not where she wants or how she wants to do it, but yet still a job that she loves to do.

“It’ll be different, but I have to believe that I’m here for a reason,” Wallace said. “It’s my faith that’s kind of directing the way I choose to accept this new assignment, and I just think there is somebody who needs and wants me here. It’s my job to figure out why I’m here, other than to just teach English.”