WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Samuel Wallis has come a long way since teaching high school in urban Mississippi. In four short years, he has transitioned from teaching to supervising a department, to becoming Director of Programs at a non-profit that works closely with the Yonkers Public School District.
As a result, Wallis will be honored by the Business Council of Westchester as one of the recipients of the “40 Under 40” award, which celebrates individuals who demonstrate exemplary leadership, creativity, innovation, dedication and professionalism.
Along with maintaining his position as Director of Programs, Wallis works for the Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE), which seeks to improve the educational outcomes of students in Yonkers Public Schools. YPIE hopes to motivate students to graduate and move on to post-secondary school through additional programs and services.
“Many of the students in Yonkers have the cards stacked against them. Many of the schools are underfunded and I simply want these students to have nothing short of the same opportunities that I had,” said Wallis.
Wallis, who graduated from Tufts University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in political science, landed his first job as a government and economics teacher at Gentry High School in Mississippi. As a result of his students' stellar performance, his efforts were quickly recognized and Wallis became a national semifinalist for the Sue Lehman Excellence in Teaching Award in his first year on the job. Wallis then became the Social Studies Department Chair at Gentry, where he was able to have a greater influence within the school.
Wallis now impacts a much larger group of students and faculty members as the Director of Programs in Yonkers. He oversees the entire school district, a struggling one at that, and must embrace the challenge. “In my current position, I have the opportunity to have a positive effect on many students' futures. Ultimately, I want to see the students go from where they are now to where they should be,” said Wallis.
As a Westchester resident, Wallis was thrilled to be selected alongside 39 other gifted individuals from the business sector of the entire Hudson Valley. “I am honored to be mentioned with so many great leaders, not only for myself but for the Yonkers Public Schools. It proves that people are recognizing that we are really doing some great things,” said Wallis.
The winners of the “40 Under 40” award will be honored on June 16 during a reception at 800 Westchester Avenue in Rye Brook. For more information visit the Business of Westchester's website.