By David Karas | Correspondent
Candace Wallace is no stranger to Catholic schools.
“I grew up in Catholic education…from kindergarten through college,” she said. “My only experience as a student was through the Catholic educational process.”
Her own faith and educational foundations make her newest role – as the incoming principal of St. Benedict School, Holmdel – a perfect fit.
Wallace, a resident of Hazlet and member of St. Benedict Parish, is married and has three adult daughters. She holds a post-baccalaureate certification in elementary education from William Paterson University, Wayne, where she also earned an elementary education certificate from the state.
Wallace pursued graduate studies in New Jersey City University, Jersey City, earning a master of arts degree in educational technology in 2004, and another master of arts degree in educational leadership in 2006. Wallace has also worked toward her doctor of education in educational leadership, with a focus on curriculum development and leadership, through Northcentral University, a San-Diego based virtual higher education institution.
In a recent interview, she discussed the beginnings of her teaching career in public schools.
“I honestly had no idea how different it would be,” she said, reflecting on the contrasts with her own educational roots. “I spent 22 years in the public realm, waiting until the day I could retire and come back to my roots.”
Wallace served as a teacher and high school softball coach in Hasbrouck Heights Middle and High Schools, Hasbrouck Heights, from 1994 through 2007. During her tenure there, she focused her teaching in social studies, language arts and computer courses.
For the next two years, she served as supervisor of instructional services for Middlesex County Vocational-Technical High Schools, East Brunswick, before spending the next three years as director of curriculum and testing (K-12) for the Orange School District, Orange. She then spent a year as assistant principal and director of curriculum for Academy Charter High School, Belmar.
In addition to her various teaching and administrative positions, Wallace also spent five years as an adjunct professor in the Department of Computer Information Sciences at Passaic County Community College, Passaic, as well as a year in Brookdale Community College, Lincroft.
From 2013 to 2015, Wallace made her last stop in public education in a post as director of curriculum and instruction for the Middlesex Borough School District, Middlesex. The following year, she returned to her roots in Catholic education, at the helm of St. Virgil Academy, Morris Plains.
Wallace reflected on the special learning environment she has come across in Catholic schools – both as a student and, now, as an administrator.
“The most important piece of Catholic education is the feeling of community that it establishes, (an environment) that is faith-based, and gives us an instantaneous connection – as students to our classmates, as educators to our fellow educators. That shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
While she values her experience in public education, Wallace said that there is a deep sense of camaraderie and connection in Catholic schools that strikes her.
“I really feel like this is a team that I am on, and we all have the same vision,” she said.
Wallace said that she feels “blessed” to join the St. Benedict community.
“What I see here is a community that is well established,” she said. “It is secure, and stable. It is a great foundation for educating the students who are in this school.”
Admitting that she is a bit of a “tech nerd,” Wallace said that she looks forward to ramping up the use of technology and bringing “21st-century skills” like problem solving and critical analysis into more aspects of the curriculum. She also hopes to continue to foster an environment of safety and peace there.
“This is a happy place,” she said. “Everybody is happy to be here.”