The legacy of Virginia Wall, an English teacher who taught thousands of students during her 48-year career, lives on throughout the halls of Chillicothe High School.
The legacy of Virginia Wall, an English teacher who taught thousands of students during her 48-year career, lives on throughout the halls of Chillicothe High School. Thousands of dollars have been awarded annually to graduating seniors ever since the Virginia Wall Scholarship Fund was established more than 30 years ago. Now, the mission of the fund’s board of directors has expanded to include long-lasting school improvements. On Tuesday, board directors gathered at Chillicothe High School to dedicate the Virginia Wall Research and Media Center. The center is the newly-modeled library and learning center. “We’ve been dreaming about this day and honoring Miss Wall,” said Brent Turner, treasurer of the Virginia Wall Scholarship Fund Board of Directors. “The Virginia Wall Scholarship Committee has expanded its mission and is now spending some of its money to help improve the English department and the library. So, today is the unveiling of that.” The expanded mission comes following Wall’s death in 2016. Through her generosity, the directors have provided $24,000 to the school district for use in the English department and $18,500 toward improvements in the high school library. Wall retired in 1991. Forty-five of her teaching years took place at Chillicothe High School. While serving as head of the English department at CHS, she taught English classes from sophomores to seniors, including English as a college preparatory course. She also was senior class sponsor for 41 years. She directed 52 three-act plays and managed 41 baccalaureates and graduations. She earned many professional awards throughout her career. “Next to her own classroom, probably, the next important place to her in the school was the library,” said Bonnie Mitchell, secretary of the board of directors, a former student of Virginia Wall and author of book, “The Virginia Wall Story.” Stephanie Prather, CHS library media specialist and former student of Miss Wall, talked about the changes that have taken place in the library because of the Wall gift and explained how the facility has transformed into a more engaging learning environment and now is a hub of student activity. The space borrows and combines concepts from many inspiring non-academic spaces to create a space that attracts students, said Dr. Jill Watkins, English Language Arts Department Chair. The library now provides a flexible learning environment for students to develop interpersonal and academic learning through interaction, collaboration, and research. The new space has a laid-back feel with comfortable lounge seating, cafe tables, and connectivity for students’ Chromebooks and personal devices. The space will continue to evolve to reflect a modern-day approach to learning and instruction. Chillicothe High School Principal Brian Sherrow extended words of appreciation for the Wall gift. “You have transformed this entire environment into a learning space where kids want to be,” Sherrow said, noting that, previously, the library often was empty. “There would be no one here before or after school,” he said. “There would be nobody waiting to get in here. Now, it is a vibrant living space where kids want to be. You come in here during the day and there may be a little talking, but they are collaborating, they are working, they are moving around. They have their Chromebooks out and are working.” “It is so amazing the difference you see with our kids having this kind of environment to be in,” Sherrow continued. “Because of your generosity and the ability to transform this space we have been able to help lots and lots of kids to make the learning environment a better place to be. I’m as proud as punch of what we have accomplished and what we will accomplish in the future. It was made possible by your generosity.” Turner clarified the principal’s comments, stating that the improvements were made possible by Virginia Wall and her generosity. “If she was here today she’d be happy with what you have done,” Turner said. “We will likely never see another like Miss Wall,” he added. “We are very happy that the R-2 School District has decided to honor her through this dedication.” A portrait of Virginia Wall, painted by local artist Kelly Poling, hangs at the entrance to the Virginia Wall Research and Media Center. Following remarks in the research and media center, those in attendance toured the English department where an estimated $24,000 in Wall funds were used to enhance the learning environment. Funds have been used to create flexible seating options in classrooms as well as develop collaborative learning spaces and opportunities throughout. Dr. Watkins explained some of the improvements. Wall funds were used to purchase high top tables and chairs, collaborative seating (tables and chairs), triangle seating (for individual groupings, paired groupings, tripod groupings, quad groupings, etc.), ottomans, high tops with whiteboard/interactive tops, five portable projectors to allow students to connect their Chromebooks to projectors for mini-presentations/collaborative project work, six wireless printers to allow students to print wirelessly from Chromebooks on the Student iPad network, and 25 headsets with integrated microphones. Additionally, five internet hotspots were purchased for students to take with them in the afternoon and return the next morning. The hotspots provide internet accessibility for students while traveling to extracurricular events in the evenings or at other locations where internet service is not available. The hotspots were purchased with Wall funds and the school district pays for the data usage. The Virginia Wall Scholarship Fund is a not-for-profit foundation established in 1986 by members of the 1950’s Maxi Reunion group. Virginia Wall was a member of the group until her passing. The board is comprised of Chillicothe High School graduates and, at this time, all are former students of Miss Wall. Members of the Virginia Wall Scholarship Fund Board of Directors are: Chuck Haney (president), Jim Bonderer (vice president), Bonnie Mitchel (secretary), Brent Turner (treasurer), Jenny Hughes (assistant secretary) and Earle Teegarden (ex-officio founding member and assistant treasurer).