After 22 years at Thornfield, Mike Wallace accepts new job with Everton school district
After 22 years at Thornfield School as a teacher and administrator, Mike Wallace has resigned, effective June 30. Wallace said Monday in an email to the Times that when he told the Thornfield students last month on the last day of school that he was leaving to accept a job in another district, “I’m not ashamed to admit I teared up.”
Wallace called the small, kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school “a very special place” and said he has “so many precious and fond memories that I will carry forever.” His two older boys, Casey and Cale, attended kindergarten through eighth grade at Thornfield in the same building where their great-grandparents, Archie and Ruby Mahan Wallace, had attended high school and where their grandfather Maynard Wallace graduated from eighth grade. Wallace’s youngest son, Riley, now lives in Forsyth with his mother and attends school there.
Wallace began teaching first grade at Thornfield in 1996. After eight years he was promoted to the job of district administrator in 2004. He said he appreciates “the confidence and patience our school board, staff and community exhibited as I learned my new position.”
He’s proud of the district’s academic accomplishments during his 22 years, including being “Accredited with Distinction” by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education beginning in the 2004-2005 school year and continuing through 2011-2012. “Our students, staff and community recently earned a 100 percent on our 2017 annual performance report from DESE,” Wallace told the Times, adding that the district was also awarded the Gold Star School Award in 2007.
Physical improvements in recent years include construction of a ball field, pavilion and outside basketball court, new chain-link perimeter fencing, a security camera and keypads and a new electronic message board.
Despite the academic accomplishments and physical improvements, though, the school’s enrollment has declined in recent years. “Our district had an enrollment of around 100 students when I started my career in 1996,” Wallace said. It ended the 2017-2018 school year with an enrollment of 57.
Wallace said many of the memories he now cherishes about his years at Thornfield “were very stressful at the time ... but I can look back and laugh about now. I will forever cherish my opportunity to have served with such a wonderful population of past and present students.”
He expressed thanks to all who showed confidence in him during the past 22 years, and he singled out several for special praise, especially the late Jerry Wallace, his “good friend and mentor” who died of cancer in 2012. “Looking back, I appreciate how Jerry pushed me to ‘do it’ better. I realized after his death, he wanted not only to see our school succeed, but he wanted me to succeed and find a way to always be better for our school and students. For this I will always be grateful. I will forever carry and use skills learned from this great man.”
He also expressed thanks to Sharlene Larson, who served as a “sounding board” and a source of “straightforward honest feedback” while assisting him through “overwhelming situations during my first couple years in administration.”
Colleagues Tena Landry and Melissa Campbell also earned thank yous as his “go-to people.” And Wallace thanked the Ozark County Times “for always presenting positive school news and pictures of our little organization on the hill.”
He added, “Thank you to all students, parents, community members, school board members (past and present) for the opportunity to serve with you in the education of our world’s most precious resource, our children.”
Wallace is leaving to take the job of superintendent of schools at Everton, a small k-12 district northwest of Springfield. He will replace Dr. Karl Janson, who is leaving Everton to become school superintendent in Cabool. “I am excited, as Everton Schools has many similarities to Thornfield.”
He begins his job in Everton on July 1 and said he wishes “the best for Thornfield” as he and girlfriend Lexie Scott “start a new adventure with our family.” Thornfield’s new administrator
Melissa Donley Campbell of Squires has been hired to serve as Thornfield’s next administrator.
Campbell, the daughter of Squires residents Austin and Glenda Donley, has worked for the Thornfield district since the 2003-2004 school year, when she drove a school bus and worked with the Parents as Teachers program. She started teaching at Thornfield in the 2007-2008 school year and most recently taught seventh and eighth grade.
She graduated from Ava High School in 1996 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Drury University in Springfield and a master’s degree in administration from William Woods University in Fulton.
She and her husband, Laryme, who will also teach at Thornfield next year, have three children: Shelby Box and husband Aaron, who live in Ava with their 3 1/2-month-old daughter Aubrey Jo; and sons Carter, 16, a student at Ava High School, and Triton, 6, who attends Thornfield School.
“I’m local,” Campbell said, laughing. Thornfield “is where my heart is. I’ve never taught anywhere else.”
She assumes her duties as administrator on July 1.