William Walker Elementary School
Just off of Walker Road, nestled amongst sprawling homes with gated driveways, you will find William Walker Elementary School. "A lot of people don't even realize we're here," says Principal Joann Hulquist. The school's setting can be misleading to visitors. A Title I school, William Walker is the only one in the District to qualify for a federal program that allows all the students to receive free breakfast and lunch.
Despite the urban setting, there is a community and culture of caring that makes Hulquist smile widely. Every year on the first day of school, 3rd through 5th graders get off the bus with younger students. "My first year I thought they were siblings, but no. Moms take their kids to the bus and ask an older student to help their little ones get to their classes, and they do it," says Hulquist.
That caring attitude extends to the community, staff and parents. "Our volunteers are not only parents, but community members, grandparents and employees of local businesses like the Nike Employee Store," says Hulquist.
William Walker is one of five BSD elementary schools with the SHINE Program. The program provides supper for students, as well as an academic and enrichment activity after school. "SHINE really goes beyond that, in that it has a parent outreach component as well," says Hulquist. The program provides evening ESL classes for adults, as well as classes in finance, technology and parenting.
At William Walker, you will find teachers who are fresh out of college and teachers who've worked inside the school for decades. But they all have one thing in common. "There's a real willingness to examine our actions and look at what will make the most difference for our students," says Hulquist.
In the center of the school is a courtyard with a pond and a patch of heather. It's a little overgrown, but the school likes to keep it that way. Hulquist explains that each year, mother ducks lay their eggs in that heather patch outside the windows of a kindergarten classroom. The students help maintain the small pond and get to watch as the mothers raises their ducklings in the courtyard year after year.