Gail Wallace is a Spanish teacher in the Upper School and has been working at Carolina Day School since 1996. Her son, Tyler McDaniel, attended CDS for his final two years of high school, graduating in 2012. Gail served in the Peace Corps in Africa, where she discovered that she liked teaching and loved learning different languages, including Kikongo and French. Gail has been awarded the Brevard Book Award and the Elliston Pro Development Award.
Get to know Gail Wallace:In what ways can you teach/engage children at CDS that you couldn't at other schools? “The relaxed and respectful relationships we have with students, and the supportive and inspiring relationships we have with our colleagues, make for a dynamic environment where we discover together.”
What do you like most about your job at CDS?
- “The students and our close relationship with them. We have the privilege of witnessing the incredible transformation of 9th graders into the young adults who graduate every year.
- My colleagues: They are intelligent, honest, compassionate, willing to share what they’ve learned, and always pursuing their passions; i.e. truly inspiring
- Autonomy in the classroom: When we are trusted as educators, we do our best work.”
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions? “By facilitating the supportive relationships that our students have with their teachers.”
How would you describe your classroom? “A comfortable and inviting space that invites students to relax, be challenged, and practice a living language in a mutually supportive environment. A place where the wider world is always the reason for what we do.”
What books and authors inspire you? “My deepest inspiration has come from traveling and living abroad. My Peace Corps days shaped me. Learning a language gives you the key to connect to other people and understand their culture when you travel, and you will never be the same afterwards. By teaching Spanish language and culture, I am laying the groundwork for transformational experiences that my students might have for the rest of their lives.”
What is your favorite quote about education, mentorship, children, and/or learning? “It’s not a quote, it’s an idea. The art of teaching is like the holy grail; it’s a beautiful, incredibly alluring yet ultimately unattainable ideal that pulls you forward, day after day and year after year--you can feel yourself making progress, but you know you will never get there. Even so, you sense it is worth a lifetime of pursuit.”
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less? “Constantly pondering what the kids need next.”
Which classroom projects/events are you known for? “The service trip to Honduras and subsequent year of fundraising. (2008, 2010.) When Peace Corps pulled out of Honduras for security reasons, we cancelled the trip for 2012. I plan to develop another service/travel opportunity for our students.”
What personal passion brings balance to your life? “Teaching is inherently an unbalanced profession. That said, my family, outdoor activity, and the Sunday New York Times are my ways to unwind and re energize.”