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Meet Shanita Wallace of Houston Elementary School

Shanita Wallace is in her fourth year as a fourth grade teacher at Houston Elementary in Spartanburg, but she has many years of experience caring for children.

Wallace had a home day care when her son was young, she worked as an after-school program director and as a long-term substitute teacher, all before earning her Master’s degree and entering the classroom as a full-time teacher. Her husband’s military service meant the Wallace family lived in Germany, Kansas, Georgia and Virginia, before they arrived in South Carolina. She became a teacher simply because she loved working with children.

“I believe that every child matters,” Wallace said. “Every child in my class has a story – many I can relate to and the others I can empathize with. I care about my students.”

In Wallace’s classroom, students can be found sitting on the floor and elsewhere, utilizing flexible seating options to give them the learning environment that works best for their needs.

“It’s like a home when they come to school,” she said. “Not every child is going to learn in a seat. They do have options. Usually the funding is out of pocket. I make an investment and I’m proud of that.”

Wallace said her son was going into middle school just as she was entering her new career.

“I almost felt like I was following my son to school,” she said. “I wanted him to see that I had a passion for learning as well. I’m still a lifelong learner and I’m always going to be that.”

Nomination excerpt:

“Our principal refers to her as the ‘kid whisperer’ because she is able to get the best out of her students without ever having to raise her voice. Her lessons are creative, engaging and inspiring. She goes above and beyond by arriving at 7 a.m. to sponsor the Morning Math Club, which provides extra math help for third, fourth and fifth graders. Last month, she and one of her colleagues sponsored an after-school program called the Cardboard Challenge that helped develop students’ science, technology, engineering and math skills. This year she spent her own money to help provide flexible seating for her students.”

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