Destination Career is a series profiling recent Purdue Agriculture graduates.
First-year teacher eager to learn and grow
By Tana Simmons
Photo provided by Micah Wallace
Micah Wallace, who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education in 2014, teaches for the Seymour (Indiana) School Corporation. She says she loves being able to make a difference in the lives of her students and looks forward to growing the agricultural offerings where she teaches. Full-size image (7.14 MB)
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Micah Wallace walked into the classroom on the first day of school feeling both nervous and excited. In another first, she would stand on the other side of the desks and be “Miss Wallace.”
Wallace earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Purdue in 2014 and is a first-year teacher at Seymour (Indiana) Community School Corporation. She teaches grades seven and eight in the middle school’s agriculture program. She also teaches introduction to agriculture, agribusiness management, and horticulture in the high school with a veteran teacher.
On that first day of school, Wallace’s nerves were quickly calmed after she realized her students were just as nervous as she was. One particular student caught Wallace’s attention.
“One young student was so shy and nervous that I could barely hear her say her name while standing right next to her,” Wallace said. “I knew from that moment on that it would take a lot for me to pull her out of her shell.”
Wallace made an effort to help the student find her voice. Wallace did that by calling on the student often, even if she didn’t raise her hand. Over time, Wallace said she was able to help the student gain confidence. By the end of the semester, this shy and quiet student became one of the most talkative in class, raising her hand to answer any questions Wallace had.
“It was amazing the transformation this student made in such a short time,” Wallace said. “She really inspired me and kept me excited for what each new day would bring with her progress.”
But Wallace was not out to teach just one student. She said she was attracted to starting her career in Seymour because it gave her the opportunity to reach many students by building a new middle school program. And it is an age group she loves teaching.
“At that age the students still have such a sense of curiosity where they want to listen and learn and take in everything they’re being told,” she said. “They rely on me as a teacher to learn those things.”
Wallace mentioned another student who showed particular interest in class.
“One young man clearly showed that he was bored out of his mind in my class,” she said. “That is, until we got to the soil science lesson. Something about the composition of soil and the way that plants use the nutrients really sparked his interest and I wanted to keep him interested!”
She fueled that interest by encouraging the student to learn more by joining the school’s FFA soils judging team. The team will give him new opportunities to explore his interests more by participating in future competitions.
Although she loves her career, Wallace said teaching has its ups and downs. When the school year began, Wallace faced some difficulties.
“Gaining the students respect was the biggest challenge I have faced so far,” Wallace said.
One student’s trust in Wallace came as easily as allowing him to use the restroom more frequently.
“This student had gym class before he came to my classroom, so he was always in a rush to get to class on time,” she said. “By letting him use the restroom at the beginning of class each day and not counting him tardy, he knew that I understood his situation and trusted him with that privilege.”
By going out of her way to show respect for each student, Wallace thinks all of them have seen that she wants them in the classroom and want what’s best for them. And Wallace wants to share that respect with a growing number of students. In the next few years, Wallace wants her middle school class sizes to double.
“I want to be in the position where there are so many students who want to take an agriculture class that I teach introduction to agriculture all day,” she said.