Fall 2015 Newsletter
The Bishop Walker School's
Our Executive Director, James R. Woody's Visit to the
Last month, Tawana Purnell, our new Head of School and I, had the opportunity to meet with a group of leaders of other tuition-free Episcopal schools from around the country. This year’s gathering of the Episcopal Urban Schools Alliance (EUSA) included schools from Tuscon, the Boston area, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Richmond. We gathered at the St. James School in Philadelphia to compare notes, share best practices and explore solutions to common challenges.
I find that getting together with like-minded colleagues is a good way to stimulate ideas, test hypotheses and explore partnerships that will strengthen both individual schools and the collective group. I was struck by the universally held commitment to serve students and the strong desire to ensure long-term successful outcomes. Many of the schools in attendance were middle schools that have innovative and successful student outplacement and graduate support programs in place to help their students successfully transition into high school and post secondary education.
As our boys get older, we are sensitive to their changing needs and will rely heavily on the wisdom and experience of our colleagues in the EUSA and similarly effective programs in the DC area and beyond, to enhance our ability to facilitate successful transitions to their “post-BWS” lives. It’s comforting to know that we are not working in isolation, but that we have strong partners and supporters who are walking with us every step of the way. Thanks for the role you play in supporting our students’ long-term success.
"The Future" by Tawana Cook Purnell, Head of School
At Bishop Walker School, we are preparing our boys for the future. Research-exhausted pedagogical trends are considered as we
craft both our teaching and our learning. Our teachers are engaged in thoughtful conversations about what we teach, why we teach, and how we teach.
I chuckled to myself when I realized our kindergarteners were born in 2010. That seems like yesterday - or even a mere five blinks ago. I recall the strangeness of having the little line that had always followed the 19__ change as a century marked its end and y2k ushered in a new millennium. One day, the educational conversation turned to "21st century skills," and every school's strategic plan and mission were intentional in mentioning those as being particularly honed in its student body. Experts identified the skills required - the line that marked the 21st century had somehow discovered the secret to global sustainability. Society had changed such that "collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, global awareness, information literacy, initiative, and leadership" were meant to replace tenets of education where students had little freedom, tended to be "passive," and learned to memorize facts in an isolated, often tracked classroom. Admittedly, my half-century old education was a far cry from today's learning. And, I suspect, my grandparent's, a century ago, struggled to learn the best way to live a full and meaningful life. So, here we are...
That leads me to another concern: how do we prepare children for an unknown future? More importantly. How do we prepare them for their
individual futures? My generation was generally encouraged to pursue traditional careers - teacher, attorney, engineer, physician, postal worker, accountant, businessperson. Artists were a privileged few; people sacrificed wants
Some from the next generation, the ones with whom I spent the majority of my teaching career, seemed to go into the traditional careers but added a growing interest in the technology-related professions, consultancies, the corporate world, and nonprofit organizations. That generation is more interested in being who and what they want to be, not what their parents' society had prescribed for them. Moreover, they want to make a difference, contributing by somehow making the world a better place.
Somewhere along the line between centuries, children have been taught the lesson about altruism and responsibility to the greater good. Perhaps they have seen what happens when citizens are merely self-serving. So, then, what remains in the curriculum
for our children - those born a blink-of-an-eye ago? Kindness, reliability, integrity, respect, tenacity - all qualities of good character. When we reach yet another millennium, I assure you that though teaching methods and course descriptions may change, we will hold fast to those things that make a society truly sustainable. Without them, education becomes an empty exercise.
BWS Visits The Congress Heights Wellness Center
with Father Phillips
On Tuesday, October 20th
and Thursday, October 22nd
, the Lower Primary students embarked upon a field trip to the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center. The field trip was designed to engage the boys in an intergeneration environment that would further buttress key concepts from their Religion class regarding kindness and respect.
The Wellness Center Staff warmly received the boys and invited them to participate in some regularly scheduled weekly activities, which included: chair exercises, yoga, ball toss, and nutritional brain quizzes. Through actively engaging these games and exercises, the boys were able to show kindness and respect and to demonstrate good sportsmanship. They were eager to share in the games and exercises with the Seniors and the Seniors expressed their enthusiasm about having the boys involved. One Senior member commented, “I think it is great having [them] here! Their energy gives me more energy to do some of these exercises! When are [they] coming back?”
Many thanks to the BWS teaching staff and parent chaperones for their presence and continued support. And a special “thank you” to the Wellness Center Staff for their hospitality and their extended invitation to the boys for future visits. Stay tuned!
Photos from Other BWS Events
Upcoming BWS Events
Isaac's Closet Dedication Service: Sunday, November 22 - 5:00pm @ The Church of Holy Communion
Rising Stars Charity & Cheer Holiday Art & Coctail Event: Tuesday, December 8 - 6:00pm @ The Willard Office Building
The Bishop Walker School Invitational Basketball Tournament: Thursday, December 10 - Saturday, December 12 @
Martin Gymnasium, St. Albans
Lessons and Carols: Friday, December 18 - 10:30am @ The Holy Communion Campus
The Washington Winter Show: Friday, January 8 - Sunday, January 10 @ The Katzen Art Center American University
Absalom Jones Service: Sunday, February 7, 2015 - 3:00pm @
The National Cathedral