Have you ever wondered who “those people” are who camp out overnight in a parking lot to win free Chick-fil-A for a year? As it turns out, Mars Hill Academy second grade teacher, Mrs. Natalie Walls, is one of those people! She has, in fact, camped out at not one — but three — Chick-fil-A grand openings, and, by being one of the first 100 people in the door, she received 52 weeks’ worth of meals. She’s even won hula-hooping contests while there.
What’s even more incredible is Mrs. Walls' journey from being a third grade student struggling with dyslexia to becoming a second grade teacher at a classical and Christian school. Read below to find out more about this mother of three MHA students -- Elliana, Andrew, and Micah -- from Maineville.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
A: I’ve known God created me to glorify Him through teaching since seventh grade. My mother, who always prayed that her children’s gifts would become clear, saw me working with younger children as a gift from the Lord and encouraged me to follow His direction.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I earned a B.A. in Elementary Education with a focus in history and math from Michigan State University and my Masters in Middle Childhood Education from University of Cincinnati. I taught seventh grade math in Mason Middle School until I had children and have now taught second grade at Mars Hill Academy seven years.
Q: What attracted you to the classical method?
A: My introduction to classical education was in college with Euclid’s geometry and inductive Bible study. I learned to love the process of gaining and applying knowledge in a way that helped me learn it for life. The songs, chants, and review, review, review set up children with a solid foundation for the higher grades.
Also, research shows that the classical method is the most helpful method for children with dyslexia, which I was diagnosed with at a young age.
Q: What is your favorite part of the Bible to teach?
A: This is hard to answer! I love the stories of the Old Testament, especially Noah. He stood firm in his faith despite the world pushing against all he valued. In the New Testament, I enjoy taking the students through the journeys of Paul and studying how Mars Hill got its name. I enjoy seeing the connections between what students are learning at MHA and what they’re learning in church and at home.
Q: How do you encourage your students?
A: I use a lot of personal, encouraging comments and individual conversations with my students. Second grade is a big year for spiritual growth in a child, and that is such a rewarding part of being a teacher.
Q: How do you keep your energy up?
A: Coffee! But none after noon, because I’m typically in bed by 9 p.m.
Q: What is your dream vacation?
A: As a child, I was fortunate to travel all over the world. Some favorite vacations involved hiking in Arizona, Colorado, and Hawaii. Building relationships with the people of Asia and Eastern Europe during mission trips taught me to focus on eternity. England and France were enchanting; however, if someone offered me an all-expenses paid trip to Rome, I would go there again. I don’t like flying, but that experience would be worth it!
Q: What is something people may not know about you?
A: My husband, Chris, and I have worked with Ukranian orphans overseas. These experiences gave us a heart for adoption, and we adopted our son Micah from Taiwan in 2010.