Inspiring Students for 42 Years!


photo by Robert Davis '17

Ms. Debbie Walling, shown working with members of the Axiom in 2017, retired from teaching after 42 years.

Shane Limberg, Staff Reporter

Having taken a sabbatical this year, Trinity English teacher Ms. Debbing Walling recently announced her retirement.  Known for smiles and hugs, Ms. Walling inspired thousands of young people throughout her 42 years as a teacher.  She discussed her decades in the classroom. 

Q: Who or what inspired you to teach? 

A: My mom was my inspiration.  Although she died when I was 15, I learned so much from her.  She taught me the importance of love and kindness and the beauty of each person.  I wanted to continue her legacy.

Q: Why did you choose to teach English?

A: I always loved English and my English teachers.  English is important in all professions.  But beyond grammar, speaking, and writing lies some of the most important lessons of English.  Literature expands minds and makes people think about important ideas.  It gets people talking.  It opens the imagination.

Q: What has been your favorite part about teaching at Trinity? 

They need to feel seen and heard.  They need to know they matter and can make a positive difference in our world.”

A: The students are always the best part of teaching!  Each student is special and unique.  They all need to feel unconditional love and that they can achieve their dreams.  They also learn that they can overcome hardships and come out the other side stronger and wiser.  They need to feel seen and heard.  They need to know they matter and can make a positive difference in our world.

Q: How has Trinity changed throughout the years you have been teaching?

A: Technology has changed more than anything.  It provides new ways of presenting information but cannot take the place of building classroom rapport.  The campus has also improved with new buildings and areas to afford more opportunities to students.

Q: How many years have you taught?

A: Forty-two years! I have loved all of it and hated having to retire.  I just felt my gifts were in the classroom. I feared I would not be able to interact with my students the way I wanted to.  New technology would have been a struggle for me.

Q: Where and when?

A: In 1978, I began my career at North High School in Evansville, Ind.  I was there three years.  Next, I moved to Louisville and took a job at Angela Merici, an all-girls Catholic high school. I began my time as a drama coach there.  After three years, Angela Merici merged with Bishop David and became the coed Holy Cross High School.  I taught at Holy Cross for 14 years and was the drama coach for 12 of those years.  I also was the department chair there. Next, I moved on to Trinity to become part of the new AP program. I taught 22 years at Trinity.

Q: What did you enjoy about being the moderator of the magazine the Axiom?

A: The Axiom was a wonderful fine arts magazine that included poetry, photographs, short stories, and art work. It was a great showcase for the talents of many students.  All of the students on the staff throughout the years were amazing!  They often turned in submissions and worked tirelessly to create a lovely magazine.

Q: What advice have you given to your freshman classes over the years about how to be successful in life? 

A: Wow!  So many!

1. Be kind to others above all.

2. Don’t bully or pick on others.  We all have problems and struggles and need to build people up – not tear them down.

3. Fight prejudice in all forms.

4. We are all unique and have our own special stories to tell.  We are different and this should be celebrated.  Difference is what makes us interesting.  It is not a matter of better or worse.

5. Listen to others – lend a hand whenever possible.

6. Don’t laugh at the misfortunes of others.

7. Find joy in the little things in life.  They make the greatest memories.

8. Learn to love yourself.  Celebrate your many gifts and accept your shortcomings.

9. Just be yourself.  It is enough. Try not to compare yourself to others.

10. See with your heart.  Listen with your eyes.  Speak with your actions.

Q: What goals have you had as a teacher?

A: I wanted to inspire my students — not just in English but in being a better person.  I tried to be a good role model.  Kids need that. I wanted each student to feel special and to embrace his gifts.  Sometimes I helped show them what made them special.

Q: How would you describe your teaching style?

A: I tried to be patient and kind.  Poor behavior was always an immediate lesson in how to make a better choice and do no harm. Hugs were essential. I also improved my lessons each year because I wanted to be the best I could for my kids.

Q: Why is Trinity a special place?

A: Trinity is special because it allows students to find their level of success.  There is support for students who need it.  The wide variety of activities and opportunities allows each student to find his niche. Also, one of my greatest honors was being chosen as honorary alum by the Class of 2019.