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Mr. Walker Wins Adams 12 Equity Champion of the Year

Mr. Walker Wins Adams 12 Equity Champion of the Year

Equity Champion of the Year

Nick received multiple nominations. Here are some highlights: 

Mr. Walker's dedication to creating a school community where students feel they belong and want to return to every day is not only inspiring, it's also contagious. Staff and students cannot help but emulate his infectious energy and humble dedication. It is an honor working beside him.

Mr. Walker is the gym teacher at North Star Elementary. Throughout the year he has fostered inclusion and equity for our students. Nick Walker took it upon himself to expand our community's approach to equity and inclusion work this school year when we became aware of students using racial slurs. Mr. Walker wasted no time creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team at North Star Elementary. On this committee, we conducted Listening Sessions with students, designed professional development for teachers, taught mini lessons for classrooms and developed a protocol for addressing the use of dehumanizing language. As a result, all classrooms are well-versed in Restorative Connection Circles, Panorama Data concludes that students of color have increased their sense of belonging at our school, and parents are more trustworthy of North Star. Without Nick Walker, we would not have conducted this work, as he led and inspired us to make certain North Star Elementary is a safe and equitable place for all members of our community.

The work he did around Black History Month is a shining example. Mr. Walker led our Equity and Inclusion team in the creation of interactive bulletin boards throughout the school and daily lessons that were shared school-wide via school announcements and an interactive slideshow presentation. This slideshow presentation offered resources at a variety of levels, allowing students K-5 to access the information. 

Nick's enthusiasm for this project changed our school for the better. We have noticed that this movement has inspired not only our students, but our staff, families, and after school programs. We see that great collaboration among our staff and students to create a welcoming environment that can tackle tough conversations which has opened the door to new possibilities for our understanding of Black History and how we can be changemakers, just like the heroes we are learning about. Nick Walker is the sole reason we made this amazing change in our community!

Mr. Walker also displayed vulnerability by leading the school in the creation of our "I Am" Poems. When Mr. Walker shared his "I am" Poem for staff, many of us were shocked and humbled by the raw feelings and vulnerability he displayed. His poem inspired other teachers to be vulnerable in the creation of their own "I Am" Poems, which staff then shared with their students. In our January community meeting, some brave fifth graders shared their "I Am" poem with the school. These poems were powerful and vulnerable, the same as Mr. Walker's poem. Seeing that every student in the school created an "I Am" poem was powerful, instilling the same feelings of belonging as the name project we did school wide back in October. The success of these projects would not be the same if it weren't for Mr. Walker's leadership.  

Mr. Walker best supports a sense of belonging through his daily lessons in his classroom and at community meetings. Students want to be here, even if it's only to see him. He tries to include a variety of activities. When he heard a student in my class was prohibited from dancing based on religion, he quickly made accommodations for her. 

During our ELEVATE work this year, we were focusing on "sense of belonging" as a school. Community meetings are one of the places we have been trying to lift this work the most. Mr. Walker always creates a party-like atmosphere for our community meetings. You can hear the music begin to play and students begin to feel amped to join in the fun. When we arrive in the gym, Mr. Walker always greets each class. As more classes arrive and students get settled, there are greetings from other classes and the music continues to play. Once everyone arrives we begin with our normal chant "North Star Students..." and students shout "we are here!" 

Nick leads by example and has worked hard throughout the year to create an environment that is more inclusive than ever.