“It’s the ‘Country Day’ part of our name that might make people think that all of our students are exceptionally bright or very well-to-do. But those views are outdated and don’t really apply to our students. We have students of all abilities and income levels in a program that is centered on them, making it possible for them to be their own unique individual selves.”
That’s the view of the new leader of the Middle School at Maumee Valley Country Day School. Terri Wallace started her new job July 1, and is getting acquainted with the students, parents, and teachers at Northwest Ohio’s only accredited, co-educational, non-sectarian, independent school. She has found the job to be as rewarding as she had hoped and the students to be much like the ones she taught at Orchard School in Indianapolis before coming to Toledo.
“Our students are like all 13- and 14-year-olds,” she explains. “They want to have some independence, but they know they still need some guidance. They are wondering if they have to share all of their parents’ beliefs, and they want to know if it is okay to think differently from their friends. They really are trying to find out who they are, and we are here to help them learn to be advocates for themselves.”
Wallace has been impressed by the curriculum, which includes plenty of experiential learning. She cites the “Intensives” program that gives the students the opportunity to put aside the regular school class schedule and examine a topic intensely. The fall program focused on Identity, and middle school teachers used sources from many disciplines to present the topic. She surprised her students by enrolling with them in the American Sign Language class, and appreciates that the inclusion of fine arts courses (speech, art, drama, and dance) help develop well-rounded students.
“We are lucky to have resources to help us, and parents appreciate that we can invite community leaders to talk with the students,” she notes. “We don’t teach to any tests, and our teacher-student ratio is low, so students of all abilities get the help they need. When I visit classrooms, I see the teachers use a variety of techniques and methods to reach the students in ways that go beyond just lecturing. Our students really are full of curiosity and wonder, so it is easy to include a global perspective in our curriculum.”
Wallace is a Texas native and describes herself as a “Southerner.” She loves to cook and salsa dance, and reports that she and her two daughters, both students at MVCDS, are enjoying family activities around the area as they become familiar with their new hometown. She has a B.A. in English (with minors in Spanish and PR) from Dillard University, and an MA in English from the University of Vermont. She has 13 years of teaching experience in grades 7-12, and was the co-chair of the National Association of Independent School (NAIS) People of Color Conference.
MVCDS officials are pleased to welcome Wallace to Toledo. “Terri Wallace stood out during our hiring process as the most dynamic and highly qualified individual for the job,” said Head of School Gary Boehm. “With experience at both the college and Middle School levels, Ms. Wallace will be a strong addition to our already outstanding Middle School faculty.”