Ashley M. Wallace, Life Science Teacher at South Callaway High School

Hometown: Fulton, MO

Graduation Year: 2018

Majors: Secondary Education with a Biology Focus and Biology

Sorority: Alpha Gamma Delta

Please describe your current work.

I am one of two high school science teachers in the South Callaway R-II School District. I have all of the life science classes, meaning I teach tenth grade biology as well as junior and senior courses such as anatomy and physiology, genetics, forensics and microbiology (classes change based on the school year).

What are your future goals?

I plan to begin working on my master’s degree in the near future. I would love to bring a dual-enrollment science course to South Callaway and help the students that are planning on entering a career in the medical field or any other science-related field to build a solid foundation before transitioning to college.

In terms of your professional life, what would you say is your overarching purpose today?

I would say my overarching purpose is to make a difference in the world by instilling the appreciation and love of biology and all sciences to every student I encounter.

Did your liberal arts education allow you to uncover particular passions that you’ve carried into your career?

When I came to Westminster, I had declared a biology major on a pre-med track with the plan of becoming a pediatrician. As I went through my freshman year, I started to think about how much I loved science and what I truly loved about it and why I had wanted to become a doctor. I realized that my passion was helping people and that I love the actual information and processes of biology. I wasn’t sure if I would be truly getting to build on that in medicine. Thanks to the tiers, I took EDU 101: Intro to Education and fell in love with the idea of teaching. I realized that through teaching, I would have the ability to explore all of the pieces of biology that I love as well as instill that love of science in the hearts of future doctors, geneticists, pharmacists, etc.

Were any relationships you formed at Westminster particularly influential in helping you find clarity of purpose?

The relationships I formed with almost all of the professors in the education department helped me immensely in finding clarity of purpose. Dr. Barri Bumgarner was my instructor for EDU 101, which is when my eyes were truly opened to the teaching profession, which led me to the discovery of my purpose. Every class I had with Dr. Bumgarner strengthened my belief that I was going to make a difference in the lives of students. I formed great relationships with both of my advisors, Dr. Gabe McNett and Dr. Jim Concannon. Dr. McNett believed in my abilities from the beginning and worked with me through everything, from deciding what classes to take which semester to talking with me about ideas on how to introduce concepts to future (and current) students. Dr. Concannon shared my passion for science and was always willing to help me take ideas I had for lessons or activities to the next level. He knew I was capable of bigger and better things and always pushed me to try to excel. Dr. Robert Cowles took over the role of my advisor for my student teaching process. As an individual who had taught as well as served a role in administration, he was a key component in improving my teaching tactics as well as my belief in myself as an educator.

My cooperating teacher through my student teaching process, Lance Bethell (Westminster 2000), was a major asset in finding clarity of purpose in teaching as well. Lance helped me realize that I already had the abilities to be a great teacher, but the ability I was lacking was the belief in myself. Throughout the time we spent working together, he helped my confidence in myself as a teacher that could make a difference in students’ lives increase a great deal.

Each of these individuals, along with many others, believed in me and my potential even when I didn’t see it in myself. They helped me realize how important and rewarding teaching would be, despite the challenges I would undoubtedly face, and pushed me to find my purpose as an educator.

What does being a “leader” mean to you?

Being a leader means empowering others to become a better version of themselves by inspiring them to do more, learn more, dream more, through your own actions. While at Westminster, I served multiple leadership roles throughout Alpha Gamma Delta. Along with other leaders in the chapter, we worked to inspire others and make an impact, never to boss people around or simply tell people what to do. Someone that is a leader must lead by example, so in my time as vice president of Scholarship, I worked to have good grades, made an effort to go to professors’ office hours, attended study halls, etc. A leader cannot ask something of someone if they are not willing to live up to those same standards. This belief has stayed with me in my classroom. I do my best to model classroom expectations and inspire others to do more than they thought possible.

What does success mean to you?

To me, success is a mentality. It isn’t defined by the money you make or the things you have, but rather by being satisfied with yourself knowing that you tried your best to achieve the goals you have set. I believe success is going to feel, look and simply be different for everyone, but if you aren’t satisfied with your effort and your actions towards your goals, then it is impossible to truly be successful.

What is it about Westminster that makes it the kind of community that empowers students to discover their purpose and find success?

Through the liberal arts curriculum, students are exposed to a multitude of subjects that allow them to broaden their interests and discover their purpose. At other colleges, students may not take as many courses that do not relate to their major, so they are not exposed to other thoughts, beliefs, etc. Taking courses in a wide range of subjects provides students the opportunity to potentially find their purpose in a place they may have never thought to look. The small campus size of Westminster also helps empower students to find success. Students are able to make relationships with one another, faculty and alumni to assist them in finding their purpose and inevitably success.

Do you recommend Westminster to prospective college students?

I will always recommend Westminster to prospective college students. The small campus allows you to be involved in many things, such as sports, clubs, Greek life, etc. You are able to explore so many different options to truly find out who you are and to find your purpose in life.

Favorite Westminster faculty member?

Mike Amspoker was by far the most challenging yet most enjoyable professor I encountered throughout my time at Westminster.

Favorite spot on campus?

Either the Glass Room on the third floor of CSC or the couch areas at the end of the halls in CSC.

Last book you read?

Girl, Stop Apologizing ​by Rachel Hollis

Favorite TV show?

Brooklyn 99

Favorite app?

Either my Roku app because one of my dogs ate our remote, so it’s the only way to watch TV, or Twitter, because I use Twitter to stay updated on all the teams, groups, etc., for South Callaway, as I can’t be at everything but like to stay in the loop of what is happening.

Favorite way to spend a Sunday?

I don’t know if I have a favorite way to spend a Sunday. My Sunday usually includes going to the gym, grocery shopping, cleaning and preparing for the week for school. I enjoy getting to take my dogs to the dog park when the weather is nice.


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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.