In my opinion, teaching is one of the hardest and most noble professions. It takes a certain kind of dedication and commitment to be able to reach, mold, and engage young minds. As a parent, I have had the opportunity to experience many different teachers and administrators. I have always been fascinated by the way that certain teachers can capture both the affection and the imagination of the children that they teach. In today’s society, I find that the focus has shifted away from those who teach because they love to teach and have a genuine passion for reaching those in their charge. So, I wanted to do this Creative Interview to showcase a Teacher who is definitely “Not Your Average Teacher”. They do EXIST. In addition to being a teacher, Nigel Walker is also a published author, three times over. You will find the links to his books in his bio at the end of this blog. Be sure to Like and Follow him on his various Social Media Channels. He definitely gets the Stage Presents Seal of Approval.
What made you want to become a teacher?
After changing my mind several times, I began to think about what I could do that I would enjoy other than writing, music or theater. Even though I delighted in those things, I was looking for a more stable career. I then thought about how much I liked to tutor other students in High School, and I recalled that my Spanish class taught basic Spanish to elementary school children, and so began my interest in teaching.
What makes your teaching style unique?
My upbringing helps me to relate to more of the students that are considered “at risk”. My diverse interests in music and pop culture help me to relate to the average student, and my use of music and creative teaching techniques keep the students engaged. I also pair that with the very high expectations to draw a belief out of all my students that they can achieve Many will tell you that it is a difficult and scarcely seen task to maintain high expectations amidst student and parent resistance, as well as changing standards and expectations.
What is your goal for your students each year?
I tell my students at the beginning of each year that it is my goal for 100% of them to have a passing grade and/or pass whatever standardized test we are giving, and I believe that is possible.
Ultimately, what do you see as your end game? What do you think that your experience and education has prepared you for?
My ultimate goal is to open my own school, whether it is private or charter. I have have had the good fortune of being acquainted with Ron Clark and Kim Bearden, co-founders of the Ron Clark Academy and some of their outstanding teachers. I have also had the privilege of working under the 2013 Metlife/NASSP National Principal of the Year, Dr. Laurie Barron. In those experiences, I have shared my goals and have been advised by people I think are the best equipped to give advice. My experience as a professional speaker and community activist has prepared me to understand the sense of community it truly takes to help in the development of a child. I am prepared to embark on my own personal journey to develop the next generation of leaders in the community.
What is your vision for your school? Tell me a little about it.
The vision of the school is to use an energized curriculum based on music and the arts to engage students in rigorous instruction. It is also to discover or utilize talent to serve the community, while building lasting qualities of good character. I want my school to change the culture of how underprivileged and underrepresented students are viewed in society and build a legacy of leadership and scholarship that they will brag about being a a part of.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next three and a half years, I hope to finish my doctorate in Curriculum and Leadership and if I decide to go with a Charter School, I hope to be ready to open my school in the 5th year.
What advice would you give to a newly graduated teacher, getting ready to enter the School House in the Fall?
Don’t go in alone. Find a mentor and a support group. Teaching is not a piece of cake. Be in it for the right reasons, the students!! Be consistent. Be fair. Understand your student’s personalities and try to find ways to incorporate them in your expectations, so that they can be themselves. Stay within the standards that you set in your classroom.
What’s your favorite quote?
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Where can we find you around the web?
Nigel L. Walker was born February 13, 1980 in Eufaula, AL. He is a teacher, author, speaker, and owner of W.I.L.L. Educational Services, LLC. He has a Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and is currently a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Leadership. His works include poetry books, The Secret Diaries of Jean Batiste and Rose Petals for Josephine: The Secret Diaries Vol. II, and a narrative nonfiction, The Underground Philosophy of Education: Teaching is Not for Dummies. He was a 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year Candidate, 2012 Professional of the Year for Covington’s Who’s Who Professional Registry, and is a member of the Great Black Speaker’s Bureau. He was featured in 7 Black Education Speakers Making a Difference by the Great Black Speaker’s Bureau. He is also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He is married with two children.