Fall 2014 Newsletter
A Thanksgiving Message from the Executive Director/President
As I reflect on all the joys, challenges, setbacks and victories of the past year, there is at least one common thread that runs through all we’ve experienced at the Bishop Walker School – a spirit of generosity. That generosity has come in the form of faculty and staff who have patiently and compassionately given of themselves to students on a daily basis, or parents who trust us to have their sons’ best interest at heart at all times, yet who bear with us when we strike an occasional “bump in the road”. It may have been manifested through board members who have tirelessly advocated for us in their various spheres of influence or donors who have invested in our work without the expectation of an immediate return. It may have been reflected through countless hours of volunteer service or an in-kind gift that met a pressing need at the perfect time.
As we enter this wonderful season of Thanksgiving, we at the Bishop Walker School want to make sure you know how much we value your generosity in support of our efforts to lay a solid academic, social and spiritual foundation for a group of young men whose future prospects are bright thanks to our shared commitment to their success.
Wishing you a season full of good health, rich relationships and abiding peace!
"Think and Dream" - A Letter from the Head of School
A few months ago, I started working with one of the architects tasked with designing the building at THEARC, which will house the Bishop Walker School’s upper primary and middle schools. As we started talking about the layout of the floor where our students will complete their Bishop Walker School education, he said to me, “Angela, all I want you to do is think and dream.” I smiled to myself when I heard this because that is much of what we do on a daily basis at the Bishop Walker School. We are a school built from the dreams of many, and we are constantly thinking about how to provide a high quality education for young boys from the ages of 4 to 14.
For the last year and a half, I have been fortunate to think and dream out loud with a group of educators who have spent their careers educating budding adolescents in some of the most prestigious independent schools in Washington, DC and on the East Coast. Seven professional colleagues who are middle school heads, admissions directors, and classroom teachers from Shady Hill School, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, and Sidwell Friends School were invited to form the Bishop Walker School Middle School Program Committee. Together we discussed, questioned and pondered everything from the physical space to the academic course load and from the structure of the advisory program to the athletics offered. Despite their own professional responsibilities, these educators have visited the Bishop Walker School, met faithfully as a committee, offered advice, patiently answered my questions and researched various components of a middle school program. Their assistance has been invaluable.
It is said that when Bishop John T. Walker taught history at St. Paul’s School, he connected the students to the content and created a learning environment in which students developed and tested ideas (John Walker: A Man for the 21st Century by Robert Harrison). The middle school program strives to be faithful to Bishop Walker’s ideas of teaching and learning. As the Bishop Walker School’s middle school philosophy states,
Through small classes, students have the opportunity to explore ideas, take risks and gain greater insight into who they are as individuals. Our advisory program enables teachers to work closely with students and help them manage their academic and social progress. During the middle school years, students become more independent and responsible for their academic work and managing their behavior. Through service projects, religion classes and advisory, students develop leadership skills, empathy, self-awareness and a commitment to serve others.
The program will emphasize small class sizes, offer a rigorous and relevant curriculum, value the relationship between teacher and student and stress engagement and collaboration.
We do not have a crystal ball to predict where our boys will go to high school. However, the middle school program’s focus will be on preparing our students for the academic rigors of high school regardless if it is public, public charter or private. We plan to continue to lay a firm academic foundation, which consists of developing a boy’s intellect, social literacy, moral fortitude and artistic and athletic gifts. We believe this foundation will sustain a boy beyond our doors and for the rest of his life.
In September, the Bishop Walker School will have our first middle school class. Between now and then we will be doing the following:
In the weeks and days ahead, we look to the future with excitement as our thoughts and dreams take shape.
Angela G. Garcia
Head of School
- Kicking off a multiyear parent workshop series on preparing for life beyond the Bishop Walker School with admissions directors and administrators from area private, public and public charter schools.
- Collaborating with middle school educators to write the middle school curriculum.
- Meeting with our school counselor and consulting psychologists to identify and build mental health, academic and social supports for middle school students.
The inaugural performance of the Upper Primary School (grades 3-5) chorus set the celebratory tone for the annual Evensong service. Bishop Budde presided and blessed the school for the upcoming year. BWS students ages 7 – 10 read Scriptures and led prayers. Dean Gary Hall , officiant, noted how central BWS is to diocesan outreach. Bishop Budde also commissioned board members, students, and administration and faculty. This year’s service was particularly moving as we honored our founding inspiration, Bishop John T. Walker, and commemorated the 25th anniversary of his passing.
Annual Storybook Celebration
On Friday, October 31, BWS students, families and staff participated in our annual Storybook Celebration. Everyone dressed up as their favorite storybook character, and we joyfully paraded around our Congress Heights neighborhood. Here are a few photos that capture the spirit of our celebration perfectly. Enjoy!
Lending Libraries Now Open
Starting the first week of November, our new school libraries opened at both the Primary School and the Upper Primary School. Thanks to the incredible dedication and motivation of our volunteers, over 4,000 volumes were donated, sorted and scanned into a computer software program. Volunteers also designed and decorated both libraries to create an organized, warm and inviting space that encourages a love of reading.
Students in Junior Kindergarten through 5th grade visit the library once a week to receive instruction, browse and check out a book. We still need library volunteers to read to the students, help them select books and complete the checking out process. If you are interested and available on Tuesdays or Fridays, please contact Jana Gowan at (202) 591-3073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Letter from the Director of the Upper Primary School
The Upper Primary division is in full swing! We have had a very busy fall at Washington View. Third grade is learning geography of the United States. Fourth grade has been learning about the 13 original colonies, and fifth grade has been busy in book clubs and learning long division. JK assistant teacher, John VanVoorhis, is now teaching science. The boys love having the additional time and being able to performing hands-on science experiments.
In addition to challenging classroom curriculum, the boys have been busy with enrichment programs such as robotics, yoga, and Roots of Empathy. We had a visit from award-winning illustrator, A.G. Ford, and on November 21 Brian Barr, head of horticulture at Hillwood Estates spoke to the boys at Washington View. Perhaps our most exciting news is that our library is up and running! We are very appreciative to our volunteers who have donated their time to renovating our library, organizing the hundreds of books, and helping us check out books every week.
Director of the Upper Primary School
Save the Date for the Annual Dinner!
Save the date for the 6th Annual Dinner at the Metropolitan Club on Thursday, March 5, 2015. The Rev. John H. Finley, IV will be our special guest. Fr. Finley is the co-founder and head of Epiphany School in Boston. Epiphany is a thriving, independent, tuition-free middle school that opened its doors in 1997. Fr. Finley is also a member of the Advisory Committee.
Please join us for a special evening of celebrating the mission of the Bishop Walker School.
- The annual Bishop Walker Invitational Basketball Tournament at St. Albans School takes place Thursday, December 11 – Saturday, December 13.Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the Bishop Walker School. To kick-off the tournament, the Bishop Walker School Kings will play their first competitive basketball game against Grace Episcopal School at St. Albans on Thursday, December 11 at 6:15 pm. Come cheer for our 4th and 5th grade students!
- Please join us for Lessons & Carols on December 19 at 10:30 am in the Chapel at Holy Communion. The service is a festive way for our community to gather one last time before the Christmas break.
- Mark your calendars now for the Washington Winter Show on Friday, January 9 – Sunday, January 11, 2015. The Washington Winter Show has supported the Bishop Walker School for the past four years with proceeds from the weekend. More details to follow soon.
Exciting things are happening at the Bishop Walker School, and none of this would be possible without your financial support. Your donations help us to provide a high quality education for boys in Southeast DC. To make a gift, please click here. To learn more about ways you can volunteer, please contact Jana Gowan in the Development Office at (202) 591-3073 or email@example.com.