“It’s so exciting when students have a topic in hand, go out into the real world, gather experience, and incorporate it into solving a problem,” said Mr. Walker, who came from Windward School in Los Angeles, where he was director of global studies. “I was looking for a way to impact a school on a wider level, and I’m excited to do that here.”
Mr. Walker, who has twenty years of experience teaching at independent schools and universities, said that beyond a synergy with Hun’s academic philosophy, he’s been impressed by the warm and welcoming atmosphere.
“I have never worked at a place where I feel so warmly welcomed by everyone,” noted Mr. Walker, who lives on campus with his wife, María, and their daughter, Nora. “The students are kind, respectful and thoughtful; they have a wonderful energy. And I was immediately welcomed by the faculty as a new colleague.”
Mr. Walker joins the ranks of Hun instructors with impressive credentials, holding an M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Spanish literature and an undergraduate degree in Spanish and government from Dartmouth. He has taught at the University of Cincinnati and St. Mary’s Academy in Englewood, Colorado, as well as Windward. At Hun, he’ll teach two sections of Spanish, and perform his duties as faculty dean, which include hiring, professional development, training, and support, and curriculum development, as well as other tasks.
His management style is collaborative, he says, and he encourages teachers to try new things in the classroom, even if it doesn’t result in perfection every time.
“My training in design thinking has taught me to create rigorous processes that allows groups of people to work together in a way that leverages everyone’s creativity,” said Mr. Walker. “I encourage people to have a bias toward action in their teaching, and to not worry about making mistakes.”
Mr. Walker has extensive experience in the type of hands-on learning that Hun is known for. At Windward, he team-taught an experiential learning course called Global Studies Honors. In the course’s final chapter on genocide and international responsibility, the unit began with a two-week in-depth study of the Holocaust taught by the education director of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. That study included a visit to the museum, powerful in-person testimony from a Holocaust survivor, and extensive study of primary source documents from the museum’s collection. This served as the point of departure for research of the Rwandan genocide, and students eventually created short films about that genocide using survivor testimonies from the film archives of University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation.
With a drastically reduced commute time since moving to the Wilf Family Global Commons on campus (“My commute went from 1.5 hours in California to 1.5 minutes,” he notes wryly,) Mr. Walker has more time to spend with his family, doing things like cooking and reading. They also enjoy traveling to visit his wife’s family in Northern Spain.
“My daughter thinks that the Breen Family Student Center is part of our living space,” noted Mr. Walker with a smile. “She comes home, sits down there, takes off her shoes, and says, ‘Daddy, all the kids came to our house.’ She feels very at home.”