Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2011 Alumni Washington Fellow
Bio/Overview: Walker is an award winning kindergarten teacher and a passionate advocate for teacher quality issues, early childhood education and including teacher voices in education policy decision making. Walker came to her role as a 2011 Washington Fellow as a teacher in a full inclusion, mixed age Kindergarten program at Young Achievers Science and Math School Pilot in Mattapan. At the Department, Walker worked on early learning initiatives in the Office of Early Learning and on issues of teacher and leader effectiveness and standards and assessments with the Secretary’s Senior Advisor on Teacher Quality. Given her disparate educational experiences as a young African American student, Walker’s teaching and work with her young scholars is always informed by her own personal experiences with inequities in education. Walker knew at a very young age that she wanted to be a teacher and began her teaching career in the Boston Public Schools as a graduate student intern in an Advanced Work class at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. After earning her M.Ed. from Harvard, she taught first grade for three years before moving to her position in Mattapan. Walker loves the rewards and intellectual challenge that come with teaching and knows firsthand, as a student and educator, the tremendous impact a teacher makes.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Walker has an undying belief that all children can learn and is committed to providing an outstanding education to all students, one that is critical to a just society and affords every individual a full range of opportunities in life. Like her grandmother and mother, she sees education as the pathway to unlimited opportunity by building skills, knowledge and belief in one’s self. Walker sees herself as a facilitator of learning and strives to use both her head and heart in equal measure throughout the day. In addition to the craft of teaching, knowledge of developmental learning perspectives, understanding of children’s cultures, recognition of learning differences, and knowing her students well are the sources of power inspiring Walker and her students. Walker also deeply values the important role that families and the community play in school success and so establishes strong relationships with her students’ families and leverages community partnerships to enhance student learning and experiences.
Achievements: Walker was named as an NBC “Education Champion” and recipient of the Sontag Prize in Urban Education. She also served as a Boston Teaching Policy Fellow with Teach Plus, providing input into educational policies at the state and local level, participating in conferences and speaking on panels such as NBC’s “Education Nation” and co-authoring memos and briefs on topics ranging from evaluation reform to the effects of inequitable teacher pay. Last year, Walker was one of two teachers selected to serve on the MA Task Force on Educator Evaluation charged with recommending revisions to the regulations that guide educator evaluations in Massachusetts’ public schools. Most recently, she was selected as a Student Achievement Fellow and in that role will lead and facilitate professional development sessions nationwide for teachers focused on the Common Core State Standards.
Affiliations: Teach Plus, Education Champions (America Achieves), Student Achievement Partners, National Association for the Accreditation of Young Children, ASCD, National Association of Black School Educators
Leadership Experience: As a Washington Fellow, Walker has presented webinars and seminars on a range of early learning topics, served as a panel monitor for the RTT-ELC review process and aided in the development of primer publications on cutting edge research in the areas of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness and Standards and Assessments. As a Principal Resident and Kindergarten team leader, Walker led a project that focused on strengthening literacy development and practices in the early childhood program at her school. Through this work, she helped create a model that provided more structure and coherence to planning, assessment, and analysis through professional collaboration amongst the Kindergarten-2nd grade teams in her school. Additionally, Walker was a member of her school’s Educational Leadership team and School Site Council, where she was actively involved in school policy and management decisions.
Education: Walker attended Smith College and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Child Study in 2001. She earned a Master’s of Education degree from Harvard University Graduate School in Education, where she researched the social and cultural factors that affect African-American and Latino students’ achievement motivation. She has also earned a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Urban Education from Simmons College, and administrative credentials from Northeastern University.
Areas of Interest and Expertise:
- Teacher Quality (Evaluation, Retention, Career Growth, Teacher Effectiveness and Sustainability)
- Social Justice
- Early Childhood Education
- Family and Community Engagement