Spring 2017 Newsletter

A Community of Philanthropists

How has Bishop Walker School transitioned from being a handful of anxious families, donors, and educators “taking a leap into the unknown” to becoming a community of learners, devoted supporters, and invested faculty members? It’s all about people believing in a mission aimed towards the common good. Because they believe, they give. That is at the heart of philanthropy – an entire community of philanthropists.

Our donors give. Those who are able to offer financial resources give with their whole hearts and understand the significance of their generosity. Annual, monthly, or single-event donations are a certain way to improve lives. Bishop Walker could not exist without the thoughtful magnanimity of donors, foundations, and corporations. And then there are those, by virtue of their circumstances, that are not as able to provide financial resources. How do they give? In a true community of philanthropists, all give according to their capability and talent.

At Bishop Walker School, our parents give. Participating in successful fundraisers, parenting workshops, grounds clean-up days and myriad ways, they are a source of energy, devotion, and commitment. They raise funds as well as spirit and, at the same time, share with each other what it means to be part of the BWS family.

At Bishop Walker School, our teachers give. They, like all great teachers, give beyond expectations. They support each other as friends and colleagues. They lean into uncomfortable teaching. They embrace the meaningful lives of their charges. When I am privileged to sit in a conference with teachers and either administrators or parents, BWS teachers shine. They are brilliant ambassadors of love, giving, and empathy. Skilled and pedagogically astute, they teach the boys content, character, and confidence.

Finally, without fully realizing it, our boys give. They think of “the other” and have developing empathy. Through a strong character education component of the curriculum, they know what responsibility, caring, citizenship, and other pillars of strong moral character. In time, these traits will translate into practical giving. Moreover, the boys give hope. Watching them defy odds, grow in stature and in gentle wisdom, they are budding investors in the mission towards the common good.

For these, and many forgotten blessings, we at Bishop Walker School appreciate our community of philanthropists.

Tawana Cook Purnell
Head of School

Living the BWS Honor Code

During a recent primary school chapel service, Father Phillips, our Chaplain, asked our youngest students about their “hopes and desires” for the future. While many of the boys talked about practical pursuits like improving their reading skills or going on more field trips, one of our kindergarteners proudly announced that he wants to “grow up to be like God”. I couldn’t help but wonder what that statement really meant from the perspective of a six year-old.

As the impressionable boys entrusted into our care at the Bishop Walker School explore what God looks like to them, I’m struck by the reality that (without discounting the primary role their parents play)in potentially significant ways the answer for many of them may well be determined by what they see when they look at my life and the lives of the dedicated adults with whom they interact at school daily. This is both a sobering thought and an amazing opportunity.
All of our students memorize our honor code and regularly recite it. The honor code is not only the foundation of our discipline policy, but also serves as a fundamental building block of our daily relationships. Its opening sentence declares, “I am a child of God, created in His image”. Thanks to one of our youngest boys’ bold pronouncement, I’ve been challenged to reflect anew on what that profound declaration means and how our words, actions and choices shape our students’ perception of the world and their place in it.

During this season of reflection, renewal and rebirth, I am grateful that you’ve chosen to join us on this amazing journey. Your generous support and kind encouragement are helping to change the lives of our remarkable students and all of us who have the privilege of working with them.

Thank you!

James R. Woody
Executive Director and President

The ExceptionAL Project

The ExceptionAL Project recently visited BWS to promote positive images and narratives of black men through leading, living, and loving to our boys and the community at large. Founded in response to recent news stories of black men losing their lives at the hands of law enforcement officials, The ExceptionAL Project seeks to sustain transformative dialogue surrounding the perception of black men in the media and to ensure that implicit bias training leads to actual change.

When visiting BWS, The ExceptionAL Project team members—several of whom were previously incarcerated—spoke to the boys about how being a leader and making the right choices can shape their lives. After speaking to the students, ExceptionAL Project team members worked with the boys to document their reflections on being leaders in their family, school, and community and how those leadership opportunities can further their gifts and dreams. The boys compiled these essays into a book to share and inspire positive narratives of young black men in their community.

Inner City Inner Child

Our kindergarten class participated in exciting literacy and arts programming this year through an organization called Inner City-Inner Child (ICIC). ICIC works to place low-income early childhood students on the road to literacy and future success by empowering classroom teachers to incorporate the arts in class lessons.

ICIC’s Dancing with Books program placed a team of teaching artists with Ms. Ball’s kindergarten class. For ten weeks, the teaching artists led the boys and their teachers in song, dance, and sign language routines related to the two books chosen by ICIC: Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone and Debbie Harter and From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. In the final week of the program, the kindergarten class, their teachers, and their teaching artists performed their routines for the entire Lower School. As a part of the program, the kindergarten teachers have learned how to incorporate arts into their daily lessons to increase student engagement and retention while having fun.

A Living Museum of African American Icons

Last week, Ms. Abana’s First and Second Grade social studies classes hosted a “Living Museum” of some of their favorite African American historical icons. First grade chose figures that had made a large impact in lots of people’s lives, like Ruby Bridges, Garrett Morgan, and Harriet Tubman, and Second Grade chose African Americans who had made a difference through protest and activism, like Frederick Douglass, Muhammad Ali, and Marion Barry.

Each student created a poster presentation and then acted as the historical figures they had chosen, and parents, other students, and BWS faculty were invited to attend the museum and ask the boys about their projects. It was an incredible learning experience that was enjoyed by the students and their parents!

Simple Steps that Encourage Young Learners to Break Equity Barriers

Recently, The Hechinger Report—an organization dedicated to education journalism focused on inequality and innovation—published an opinion piece about the college enrollment gap in students from low-income families. Currently, students from low-income families enroll in college immediately after high school at a rate 30% lower than their peers from high-income families. The authors of the article believe that many of these children aspire to careers that require higher education, but very few of them understand how they can achieve those goals. The authors argue that in order to build the connection between a college education and future career opportunities, educators must nurture and build aspirations in these children. An important part of building aspirations in children is to show them what the real world is like through field trips and hands-on learning experiences with follow-up linking those experiences to education and academic achievement. Another strategy to combat inequity is helping students identify their interests and connect them to potential careers. For instance, if a student is interested in video games, ask if they’d be interested in creating their own game of if they’d be interested in selling video games. Building these connections help students visualize a path to a career that relates to their own interests.

At BWS, we strive to expose our students to many potential careers and the paths to achieving them. Every class goes on multiple field trips each year so that they are exposed to new learning opportunities. Each class has four or five Lunch Buddies that share their personal and professional interests during their monthly visits, providing our boys with strong role models. All of our students—even as early as kindergarten— are encouraged to think about their path to college and how that will affect their adult lives. At BWS, we believe that providing these learning opportunities to our students will endow them with the tools they need to reach their full potential, find their path to college, and enjoy future rewarding careers.

You can read the full article by Phillip W.V. Hickman and Stephen M. Smith by clicking HERE.

Upcoming Events
Maundy Thursday All School Chapel & Eucharist
Thursday, April 13 10:00 am -11:15 am
Holy Communion

Politics and Prose Book Fair
Saturday, April 22 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Spring Clean Up Day
Saturday, April 22 10:30 am – 1:00 pm
Holy Communion Site
3640 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE

Absalom Jones Service
Sunday, May 7 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
4512 College Avenue, College Park, MD 20740

Jazz Vespers
Sunday, May 7 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Christ Church Rockville
107 South Washington Street, Rockville, MD 20850

Friends and Family Day
Friday, May 12
Holy Communion 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Washington View 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Last Day of School
June 14, 2017