Walker: It Just Feels Different

Molly M. is a new fifth grader in the Lower School at The Walker School. She is a guest blogger and a Lower School expert author for our Discovering Walker Wonders blog series. She writes about how Walker just…feels different: 

mollymComing to a new school was hard for me. I had lots of friends. But coming to Walker was different.  When I came, everyone I met was so nice and helped me with what ever it was I needed. The teachers were always so welcoming; it was like I knew them all my life.

Everyone I met knew I was new, but it didn’t matter to them. To them, I was the same as all their other friends they had before I came. Walker is one of the best schools I will ever go to.

Opportunities Abound – For Students and Adults

Gustavo W. is a new fifth grader in the Lower School at The Walker School. He is a guest blogger and a Lower School expert author for our Discovering Walker Wonders blog series. He writes about the opportunities that abound at Walker – for students and adults! 

gustavoI am a new student at Walker. I am loving Walker so far. The environment overall is stupendous and everyone is amazing! The teachers and my friends have been super kind. The campus has been outstanding since I know kids of all grade levels. Another quick thing is that the lockers are pretty cool, I haven’t used lockers in 5 years!  I signed up for football, so I met friends before school even started!!

So far, I have met so many nice people and I continue to meet nice people. I am not the only new student at Walker in fifth grade, but I think everyone has adapted very well. One thing I notice is that everyone is trying to do more than one thing: for example my football coach Coach Farrington helps with football, wrestling, and in the cafeteria. I think everyone at Walker is very determined to complete a task.

Walker: A Place to Perform

Madeline M. is a new seventh grader in the Middle School at The Walker School. She is a guest blogger and our Middle School expert author for our Discovering Walker Wonders blog series. She writes about her love of performing and the opportunities that abound at Walker:

performingLast weekend, I was inspired by the actors, singers, dancers, and musicians in The Addams Family Musical. I love to perform! Walker gave me several opportunities to perform this fall. I was a tomboy, girly teenager, and professional intern in the Middle school comedy in September. I can’t wait to perform in an Upper School musical!

I also performed in the fall orchestra concert. Did I mention that I love to perform? I play violin for Mrs. Kyna Elliott.

She inspires me every day to improve my technique and to perform with my violin.

Mrs. Elliot played along with the student orchestra pit during The Addams Family Musical. The student musicians were amazing, including a violinist from Camerata. At the fall concert, Camerata – an Upper School Quartet – was breath-taking to hear and inspiring to watch the movement of their bows.

I also perform in the classroom at Walker. Last week, I performed a thirty-minute presentation teaching my Spanish class about dance in the Spanish culture. Whether in Life Science, Early American History, or English, I perform as a writer every week and see my progress in expression.

I am grateful for the inspiration I have received at The Walker School! Did I mention I had a performance coming up? Come hear the Middle School orchestras, bands, and choruses on December 8th for our Holiday Concert.

Thankful in the Midst of Sorrow

Like many of you, my wife, Cathy, and I were transfixed by the horrific scenes from Paris over this past weekend.  Understandably, each of us responds to such tragedy differently.  Some of us want to bury our heads, wish it away, change the channel. Others want to exact revenge on those who would take life so violently.  Most of us want to know how we can help, what we can do.  As I reflect on those whose lives were taken in Paris and in Beirut, where more than forty died on Friday as a result of two car bombings, I am drawn to a bittersweet sense of sorrow and thankfulness.

I am overcome with sorrow for those whose lives were cut short, and for those who lost a loved one. There is little that compares with the grief experienced when a life ends too soon. Twenty- seven years ago, Cathy and I buried our first son, David, who lived only nine hours.  I often find myself thinking about David and the life he did not experience; I know I will think about him the rest of my days.  Like many, I grieve both for those who have died and for those forced to say goodbye to a loved one far too soon.

And yet, on the other hand, I am compelled to be thankful in the midst of sorrow. I am thankful to be a part of the Walker community whose first core value is the “belief in the infinite worth and dignity of the individual.”  At a time like this, when children have so many questions about such tragic events, it is important for adults to remind them how important life is and how much we must treasure each individual. This is particularly important in a diverse community like that found at Walker.  Though we have different backgrounds, come from different cultures, and experience life differently, learning to appreciate our differences is a critical part of our mission.

Life is an amazing journey, filled with exuberant highs and fraught with challenging lows. While it may seem natural to want to shield those we love from that which is difficult, it is neither wise nor healthy. Child Psychologist Michael Thompson, who will speak to our community in March, reminded me this summer that “during a crisis, children want to be with those they love and trust.” Michael would encourage each of us to be present, to listen, to respond thoughtfully, and to encourage young people to reach out for support when they have questions.

Earlier today a friend shared a wonderful message from TV personality Mr. Rogers that speaks directly to us as we walk our children through frightening moments:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”- Fred Rogers.

Mr. Rogers makes an important point – look for the helpers when life is difficult. Please know that everyone at Walker is poised to be a helper for each and every student.

Fostering Meaningful Relationships On and Off the Field – Matt Casper

In his last blog entry, Jack Hall described a moment at a cross country meet that perfectly illustrated how important creating and maintaing meaningful relationships is to our school community.  As head coach of Walker’s varsity football team, I realize that the success of our team rests on the relationships between our players. I am constantly striving to make sure that the Walker football program provides balance to our players through a combination of athletics, academics, and service.ALSwalk

In early September, sophomore and linebacker Candler Boland came to me to ask if we could help raise awareness of ALS, a disease that his father Mike has been battling since 2012. On most Saturday mornings, the team gathers at Walker to watch film from the last night’s game and spends time in the weight room, preparing for the upcoming week. However, on this Saturday, September 19, 35 members of the Wolverine football team and coaches woke up met at the World Congress Center to proudly participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS with the Boland family.

CoachesALSWalk

As I walked among my fellow coaches and players and we watched our athletes interact with each other outside of their normal routines, I realized that some of the best ways to foster these meaningful relationships happens off the field. I am so proud of our athletes for rallying around their fellow teammate to support a great cause. Candler did an outstanding job of organizing the walk and representing his family that day, and to date, the team has raised over $18,800.

Walker’s Core Strengths: Meaningful Relationships

WalkerCrossCountryI have great admiration for everyone who runs cross country, no matter where they finish in a race.  It takes courage to join the team and amazing perseverance to train and compete.  So I cheer just as much for the student-athlete finishing last as I do the one finishing first.  This past weekend our middle school cross country team took that perspective much further as the final runner came out of the woods, headed for the finish line.  Without any prompting by a coach or adult, members of the Walker Middle School Cross Country team – who had already finished the race – ran into the woods so that they could run with, encourage, and support the final contestant.  It was one of the most inspirational moments I have experienced as a head of school at Walker, and a picture of meaningful relationships at its very best.

Part of the beauty of Walker is that our school size overall and small class sizes facilitate the degree to which meaningful relationships can develop.  One of the key reasons parents choose Walker for their children is that they know each child is going to be valued, challenged and inspired at an exponentially different level than other schools.  

Several weeks ago, a recent Walker graduate wrote the following as a way of saying “thank you” to her teachers:

“One of the wonderful attributes of Walker is the close relationships the teachers and students have. You inspired me, helped me, guided me, and of course, taught me. One of many things that are so special about the faculty at Walker is that you don’t feel your job ends with the last bell of the day. You seem to love truly what you do.  You have given out cell phone numbers, stayed long after school, and even held review sessions on the weekends to answer questions and insure your students’ success.  Your talents often stretch far beyond the classroom, too.  We see you racing from the all-too-famous Wednesday faculty meetings to a practice or game, and others of you are getting up early to unlock your room for a morning club meeting.  To Walker faculty, teaching isn’t just a job; it’s your life, and your dedication shows.”

Walker has an amazing, long-standing reputation for providing challenging academics, talented and dedicated faculty, meaningful relationships, boundless opportunities, peerless college preparation all within a community that is both nurturing and diverse. These core strengths represent the hallmark of a Walker education, and throughout this school year, I will be using this space to highlight each of these core strengths, starting with meaningful relationships.

The Right Choice

Sofia P., a new ninth grader at The Walker School, is one of our Upper School expert authors for our Discovering Walker Wonders blog. She writes about her first few days as a Walker Wolverine:

I absolutely love Walker so far! I knew I would have an unbelievable experience because when I came home after the first day of school, my jaw ached from smiling so much.

The people you meet are incredibly inclusive, almost like they were simply waiting at the door for you to arrive.

The schedules are very tricky, but I was able to figure it out after a few days due to helpful teachers! Also, the classes may seem intimidating but the teachers emphasize that they are always there for extra help, so I definitely feel comfortable about emailing and contacting my teachers about work or anything about the lesson.

One of my favorite parts about Walker is the free time and study hall you receive. I am used to a pile of homework as soon as I get home, but at Walker you can use study hall time or lunch time to get ahead on homework, which is very important to an athlete like me! I’m still a little nervous around some of the students that I don’t know, but as I scream that Walker cheer I know I made the right choice all along.