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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Got Code? Carolina Voyager in the News (Again)

Great news for anyone still reading my blog.  I am not dead.  Just dead tired from trying to change the world...

Opening this new charter school is more work than I could have ever imagined.  But, more importantly, the most important work I have never done.  Ah, the world of charters.  The stories I could tell, and I will, once I don't have  to play nicely with folks who say they stand for children and clearly do not.  But, I'm in the South and one of the first rules of Southern civility is to be nice even to people who are not nice to you or the charter movement.  I wish they followed the same rules. There's a book in here.  Just not now.

Now, it's about my amazing staff and students and the work we are all doing down here in South Carolina.  Here's the most recent piece from the Charlestown Post and Courier.  Check it out below:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20141226/PC16/141229680

I won't promise again that I will post more often as I barely have time to come up for air (and Cabernet).

Public education is in trouble.  Charters so want to help. We are not the enemy...



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Updated Contact Information

     A number of people have reached out requesting updated contact information.  I am now the Proud Principal of Carolina Voyager Charter School in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. You can reach me at hwalker@carolinavoyager.org or by phone at (843) 203-3891.  Please feel free to reach out to collaborate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Carolina Voyager Charter School in the News

A big thank you goes out to Amanda Kerr, Education Reporter, for the article she penned in Charleston's Post and Courier newspaper.   The article, published yesterday, highlighted the blending learning program we are implementing with our kindergarten, first and second graders.  You can read the article at the following link:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140902/PC16/140909991/1006/ 

This will be the first of many articles published highlighting the great work being done by our children, teacher and parents.  Stay tuned..... 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Right Perspective in this Age of Over-Assessment

     Thanks to Jennifer, our Project Director, for sharing this link with me, which of course, allows me to share it with you.  
     In this culture where it seems some schools spend as much time testing as teaching, comes this breath of fresh air from a colleague in England.  All assessments, yes even those Holy Grail Assessments - PARCC and Smarter Balance (always reminds me of the fake butter) are only snapshots of a child, a small slice of what makes up that individual student.  My brother-in-law, a photographer, used to tell me you have to shoot a whole roll of film to get just one good picture that truly captures the subject.  Snapshots may be out of focus, shot at the wrong angle, or at the wrong time.  Snapshots may or may not reflect the image on the other side of the lens.  The same holds true when assessing children.     

Check out this letter from the principal of a school in England.  I got chills.  I know it will have the same effect on you or else you wouldn't be reading my blog.  Pass this along to other like-minded educators...

After receiving their standardized test results, students at the 
Barrowford Primary School in Lancashire, England received a letter from their principal Rachel Tomlinson. The letter, posted below, reminds students of all the things a standardized test doesn’t measure. The letter was inspired by fellow educator Kimberley Hurd, who penned a blog post last October…: 



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Up and Running, Like 90 Miles an Hour!

     So much for my New Year's resolution to be a better, or at least more regular blogger.   My latest adventure into the charter school world has monopolized my world as of late.  Moving forward, I pledge to try to do a better job of documenting, through my blog, our school's journey in our first year.

     As an life-long educator, opening a Charter School is a dream come true, it's just that you never get to sleep in order to enjoy the dream.  Having spent all of my career in large public school systems, I have also had at my disposal an equally large network of support personnel to handle the A to Z of school operations.  Got an issue?   Pick up the phone and call one of the offices.  Pick up the phone now?  I reach my own voice mail.  In the past two weeks I've learned more about accounting, budgeting, finances, payroll, purchasing, custodial, infrastructure, compliance, ADA, benefits, human resources, and the list goes on and on.  I am a shining example of an old dog being able to learn new tricks.  While at the time I was not so thrilled to be learning all of these new things, as the School Leader, I have a much better handle on the big picture, all of those things that have to be in place so that when those little guys show up on the first day of school, nothing gets in the way of them having a stellar school experience.
     As building upgrades are being completed, infrastructure is being installed and classroom furniture, technology and materials are being delivered, I am now more focused on the teaching and learning aspects of what will make our school so special for our boys and girls.  The vision, so artfully developed and articulated by our Charter Committee, is becoming a reality right before my eyes.  Stay tuned for additional posts chronicling the experience of building a charter school from the ground up.  In about a month, the kids will be arriving at Carolina Voyager Charter School and we'll be ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Where Do I Get My 411?

     In this day and age, I can’t believe I find myself posing this question.  Where do I get my information?  Online, of course!  Google it, right? 
     I can’t remember the last time I picked up a reference book to search for anything.  As I pack to move to South Carolina, I find myself donating dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases, reference books, and almanacs to the Salvation Army, doubtful that I will have any use for any of them, unless of course the Internet goes down.  In that case, the world would have to shut down anyway.  (Have you seen that South Park episode?)
    So why this post?  As I was walking through my school library today, I observed my Media Specialist teaching a lesson on using print resources materials, posing questions such as, “Which reference book would you look in to find the population of the United States?” Really?  Do you mean the population in 2011 (or even earlier when the book was published), or the real time population today?  If I had a question about population, it would be much more interesting like looking at demographic trends over time in cities, regions or counties in my state or country.  Can you enter these types of variables into your reference book and then resort the data?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love books.  I’m old.  But come on.  Why are we teaching kids to access static print resources when the world is at their fingertips?
    And therein lies the rub and one of the reasons I am looking to lead in a less static environment.   Parents are entrusting me to take care of their children's education when they are away from them.  They don't need their parent's education, most of which is, or soon will be, obsolete. The world is dynamic.  Too many of my colleagues and our schools are not.  
     I want to be able to live and work and explore in the here and now (and the future).  If something needs to change because it doesn’t make sense, I want to be able to do it, without focus groups, curriculum review committees, pilots, let’s wait until next year, and that’s not how we have always done it.  I wish I had made this big move earlier in my career.  But then again, maybe I would not have appreciated it as much as I do today?  
     Make a difference, especially if you are mired in one of the those thousands of bureaucracies across the country known as school systems.  Create change.  If not you, who? 
     In my mind I’m going to Carolina….



Monday, May 19, 2014

Carolina Voyager Charter School in the News

     The vision of Carolina Voyager Charter School is getting closer and closer to reality.  The word is spreading about the innovative and child-centered programs that will be offered to children on the Charleston peninsula.  This past weekend, I appeared on one of the local news shows in Charleston for an interview about our school.  You can check out the piece linked below:

http://www.abcnews4.com/category/192556/lowcountry-live 

     CVCS is going to be a exemplary program, one that is certain to draw a great deal of attention in the coming years.  Continue to follow this blog as I chronicle the process of operationalizing a vision into an actual school program.  My next post will present our curriculum framework, incorporating research-based practices in an innovative platform.