Walker is a school known for producing “A-ha!” moments. Whether it is Primary School students watching their “bots” carry out the pattern designed, or Lower School students discovering exactly how the digestive system works in a hands-on lesson (entitled “Making Poop” of all things!) in Mrs. Morris’ class, or Middle School students realizing they can engage in a thoughtful debate on gun control and the Second Amendment without depending on Mr. Surkan to lead the discussion, or Upper School students being able to amplify and analyze the DNA of a plant from the outdoor classroom in our new Warren Science & Technology Building, these moments and many, many more are part of what makes learning so transformational here.
I had an “A-ha!” moment this summer during the SAIS Institute for New Heads, which I have had the privilege of co-leading the last five years. The memorable moment came when one of the new heads walked into a session wearing a school t-shirt. On the front was the name of her school; on the back was a quote that captured the way I look at The Walker School. It read “Great Minds Do NOT Think Alike.” The quote stopped me in my tracks; not because of its novelty, but because it encapsulates the essence of what is so special about Walker.
Imagine a school where:
- for five consecutive years, no two seniors have had the same academic schedule;
- the variety of advanced courses exceeds that found in schools five times it size;
- faculty encourage students to ask questions, to look at a problem or issue from multiple perspectives;
- students with different learning styles and teachers with different teaching styles thrive and are embraced;
- families of all faith perspectives, political persuasions, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are welcomed and valued.
This is The Walker School. It is the quintessential school for the 21st century, a time marked by technological innovation, rapid change, and the need for collaborative diversity and cross-cultural competency. In essence, Walker, a school proud of its rich diversity, is an incubator for nurturing multi-talented young people who are characterized by confidence, integrity, and resilience and who possess strong criticalthinking and problem solving skills. As adults, we can lead the way by modeling civil discourse, respecting perspectives that may differ from our own, and recognizing the reality that great minds do not think alike. Now more than ever, adults and children alike must ensure that Walker is a place where each individual is known, valued, and loved. As Mister (Fred) Rogers once said, “Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”