Ask a Fifth Grader!

As the Head of the Lower School, I’m often asked what makes the Lower School a special place. This is difficult to answer in just a few words; there are just so many reasons why I think this is a special place.

We have classrooms and hallways full of joyful children who love to learn. We have families that support and nurture the educational journeys of their children while encouraging them to be good people. Our teachers consider teaching a vocation, and they genuinely respect and enjoy children. We feel strongly about the importance of providing a challenging academic curriculum while supporting the social-emotional growth of all our learners. We recognize that play is an important part of learning and celebrate the growth that occurs in music, art, PE, and foreign language classes. I could go on and on, as I have the benefit of seeing so much of what transpires here on a daily basis.

But really, what do I know? I’m just an observer! For a true test of the pulse of the Lower School, we need to ask the experts. At the start of each new school year, we invite fifth graders to apply to be Lower School Ambassadors. These students complete an application and interview for these coveted positions. Those selected become the faces and voices of the Lower School students at various events on campus. Just last week they escorted our visiting authors and illustrators around the buildings and later in the year, they will speak to prospective parents during our open houses.

During this application and interview process, the ambassador candidates were asked a number of questions. Keep reading to learn more about what these fifth graders had to say about our amazing school!

The Walker School is a special place because…

  • everyone at Walker cares most about the joy that everyone shares.
  • everyone is nice and caring and empathetic and welcoming. Even if you make a mistake the kind people here will accept it and help you learn from it.
  • it makes you feel like you’re a part of one big family. It is also special because the teachers bend over backward to meet each student where they are.
  • everyone who walks in the Walker community walks out a part of it.
  • of the people. The teachers at Walker teach us so much and they commit to teach us to our fullest potential.
  • kids can learn different techniques and strategies in a fun atmosphere. Our teachers encourage us to think outside the box and want us all to have a fantastic elastic brain.
  • you can be yourself and can learn a lot of cool subjects. It is a place that is unique and our students and adults are unique.
  • the teachers genuinely care about my progress and education. I feel safe voicing my opinions. It allows me to focus on subjects I like the best and pushes me on those I don’t.
  • everyone is valued at Walker.

How are you different than before you came to The Walker School?

  • I feel more valued and I’m more confident. I am now able to say ‘I don’t understand’ and I am more outgoing and friendly. Now that I’m at Walker my love of reading has been unleashed!
  • I love to learn especially in math and science. Now I have many more friends who also love to learn.
  • I learned to a be a leader, a good friend, and a role model.
  • I am taller.

If someone is unfamiliar with Walker, what would be the most important thing you’d like them to know about your school?

  • There is something for everyone at Walker. You can do sports, you can create art, or join a club.
  • The teachers meet you where you are as a person to help you be the best you can be.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes. People will help you learn from them.
  • It’s a great place for learning.
  • Everybody matters whether old or new.
  • The Walker community is very diverse, and I am grateful for the chance to experience different cultures, religions, and traditions through the eyes of my peers.
  • The teachers are caring and enjoy teaching. They make learning interactive and fun! They challenge us to be ourselves and make us feel accepted and loved. Walker builds character and helps us take risks.
  • You would be crazy if you didn’t come to The Walker School.

I couldn’t say it better myself! Here’s to another school year filled with the wonders of Walker!

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Wisdom Begins in Wonder

IMG_8092 (1)As I reflect on our community’s first month in the Warren building, I can’t stop smiling.  Walking through these halls everyday and observing kids exploring new and different paths to learning has been inspirational.  There are so many spaces our students and teachers can use both in and outside of the classroom to find the time and space to ponder, collaborate, make thinking visible, and struggle with complex, meaningful problems – these are the spaces where transformative learning happens.  Every classroom now has space for teachers to get their students up and moving, transitioning seamlessly between hands-on activities and discussion.

IMG_8008 (1)Having 6-12 science and technology in the same physical space makes it so easy for our teachers to plan, imagine, implement, and reflect together.  I am tickled pink to watch this building’s first cohorts of our public health and engineering concentration students envision, carry out, and communicate their own novel scientific research in our TWO, not one, but TWO student research suites!  These spaces open the possibilities for new senior projects, to increase the number of students leaning into up and coming science – further strengthening their ability to stand out and succeed with confidence and competence in college and beyond.

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Here are just a few examples of the powerful, and just plain fun, learning that I’ve witnessed since the start of school:

  • 8th grade Physical Science students using every inch of the break-out spaces on the MS floor to design their film pod rockets, and THEN using the front of the building to test and analyze them;
  • 7th grade Life Science students researching on our new Chromebooks and exuberantly debating with each other what it means to be biologically alive;
  • Biology students using microscopes to observe and interpret cellular transport in real time;
  • Physics students building and testing pendulums, deeply immersed in dialogue about the patterns they see emerging from their pooled data;
  • Environmental Science students doing microbial and chemical analysis on water supplies from around campus;
  • Both public health and engineering research students engaged in vigorous peer review and support of their research proposals;
  • And seniors during their free periods pulling up comfy seating next to the collaborate whiteboard spaces to work through challenging ideas together.Image-7

I invite you to visit our new home often, to see the magic happening within.  Whether you sit in on a Life Science class creating their Mars mission packing plans, see the Biology classes track the coming flu season’s genetic evolution, listen to our Chemistry students engage in argument from evidence after a chemical reaction lab, or just spend some time in our halls, I hope that you will know and feel deeply what a difference this space has made in the lives of our students and our faculty.  Our outside now matches the passion and talent on the inside that I believe our science and tech community has always had. I can’t wait to see what comes next, but I know it’s where wonder leads.