BenU alternative certification graduate named one of state’s best new teachers

BenU alternative certification graduate named one of state’s best new teachers
January 18, 2011

Phil Brozynski
(630) 829-6094

wallaceLisle, Illinois ~ A few years ago while working on his Ph.D. in Cell and Structural Biology at the University of Illinois, Greg Wallace decided that he wanted to teach high school.

He enrolled in the Teacher Alternative Certification program at Benedictine University, and after completing eight weeks of classroom work over the summer, was placed at Marist High School on the far South Side of Chicago for his one-year internship.

Today, Wallace is one of the most celebrated new high school science teachers in Illinois.

Last June, Wallace was named the 2009-2010 Illinois Science Teachers Association (ISTA) Region 7 "New Teacher of the Year." More recently, he was named one of only three recipients of a $1,000 conference scholarship by the National Association for Alternative Certification (NAAC).    

Wallace will receive his award from the NAAC during its 21st annual conference March 9-12 at the DoubleTree Magnificent Mile Hotel in Chicago.

"It's nice to be recognized as a beginning teacher, but a bit embarrassing as well," Wallace said. "My teaching style is largely the sum of timely advice, encouragement, wisdom and strategies given to me by teachers and colleagues. I consider these people my role models and I feel like these awards represent them as much as me.

"Surrounding myself with people who are enthusiastic about teaching science, mixing that with my experiences as a scientist and stirring in some creativity has been my formula for success," he added.

Wallace is in his third year at Marist, where he teaches chemistry and honors anatomy. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Cell and Structural Biology in 2005 at the University of Illinois, and performed postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago (2005-2008) on stem cell therapies for muscular dystrophy.

Although he has only been a classroom teacher for a few years, Wallace has made a tremendous impact on his students and fellow teachers.

"Greg brings his knowledge and passion to the classroom every day," said Richard Gay, chairman of the Science Department at Marist High School. "His mission is to allow young people to learn and enjoy the learning process. His work will positively affect his students long after they have left his classroom."

Wallace relies heavily on inquiry activities and performance tasks to develop concepts, utilizing the problem-based learning techniques espoused by the Benedictine alternative certification program. He uses concrete examples that students are familiar with to connect chemistry with the real-world.

"Greg is a wonderful example of the career-changer who excelled at his craft of science in one environment and is now working with Benedictine University and prospective young scientists in a different environment," said John Zigmond, Ed.D., director of the Alternative Certification Program in Science and Mathematics at Benedictine University.

Wallace said that what impressed him most about Benedictine's Alternative Certification Program was its team of instructors and field supervisors.

"Throughout the program, I had meaningful interactions with at least 20 current and former teachers who brought a wealth of experience and advice," Wallace said. "I knew I could count on their support even outside the class to help me troubleshoot my difficult first years of teaching.

"The goal of this program is not to make competent teachers, but to make excellent ones," he added.


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 53 undergraduate majors, 13 graduate and four doctorate programs. Benedictine University is ranked as a Top School in the Midwest (11th in Illinois) for Master's Universities, 12th in the Midwest (and sixth in Illinois) for Racial Diversity, and eighth in Illinois for Freshmen Retention for 2011 by U.S. News & World Report.