Former student establishes a school for diverse students in the Dominican Republic

Krista Wallace

After establishing the Doulos Discovery School in the Dominican Republic with her husband, Krista Wallace '94 serves as an ambassador for all Aggie teachers who wish to transform lives abroad.
Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: August 25, 2009

Krista Adams Wallace '94 was looking for adventure and the chance to step outside of the life she had known during her undergraduate years at Texas A&M University. Little did she know that a one-year commitment would be the catalyst for beginning her life's work.

"In 1995, my husband Chad '93 and I went to the Dominican Republic with Young Life ministry to help build a youth camp," Krista says. "To help support us, I began teaching in a private school with students from wealthy families. The school overlooked a barrio, a neighborhood where over a half million people live in poverty. But, my students had no idea that underprivileged citizens even existed in their community."

Krista realized that the private school students, who were receiving the best education, were the future leaders of the country. If they did not understand the needs of all citizens, she wondered how they could be effective leaders.

It was then that Krista and Chad established the Doulos Discovery School to serve students from wealthy families and students whose families struggled to put food on the table. "We thought that if we could merge students from these two socio-economic groups, then maybe they could learn to work together, empathize with each other and ultimately help their communities," Krista says.

Of the 215 students enrolled in the pre-K through 12th-grade school, 103 come from families that previously had access only to public schools. "Public schools in the Dominican Republic offer three hours of instruction each weekday, and only 10 percent of the students will graduate from high school," Krista says. "Many students haven't even considered the possibility of going to college. But, even if they did, it is difficult for these students to get the educational foundation needed to be successful."

Krista's goal is for each of her students to graduate from high school and be prepared to attend college either at home or abroad. To help achieve this goal, she enlisted the help of fellow Aggies.

"Aggie teachers are well prepared to meet the needs of diverse students," Krista says. "We have two fulltime Aggie teachers right now, and we're hoping to recruit additional teachers as well as student teachers from Texas A&M."

Students at Doulos Discovery School study core subjects such as math and science as well as Spanish, English and French. Each semester, students participate in a learning expedition that incorporates a common thread throughout the core subjects. For example, a group of ninth-grade students spent a year researching, designing, budgeting and building a viable way to produce electricity for a small remote village. The students determined that given the resources available, hydroelectric power would be the best alternative.

"The students did an amazing job researching and building the hydroelectric power generator," Krista says. "However, the farmers were concerned that when we turned the water off to install the equipment, their water source would be permanently affected. We realized that we needed to help the community understand the implications of the installation."

Over the years, several class projects, including an amphitheater, botanical garden and seesaw, have been completed and installed around campus.

"It is amazing what students can achieve when given the opportunity," Krista says. "That's why Chad and I established the school-to equip children in the Dominican Republic to become future leaders, fulfill their potential and positively impact their country."