Career educator Parette Walker discusses small changes and big improvements at public schools in the Buffalo, NY area during her lengthy career.
One of the most important things a career educator can do is leave behind a legacy of improvements. For Parette Walker, the elevation of schools under her leadership equates to positively impacting the lives of thousands of children who passed through the doors.
Many of the hardest aspects of school performance improvements are tied to outside, uncontrollabe variables, such as funding, the economics of a given district and more, but Walker believes strongly in focusing on the things a person can change.
Under her leadership, two schools in Buffalo climbed in various rankings. Most prominently, the Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction transformed from a school in need of improvement to one in good standing.
In 2006, Parette Walker also witnessed Frederick Law Olmsted School #64 qualify as one of the top 10 public elementary schools in western New York as determined by Business First. It reached number one on a list of 232 schools in the region.
Parette Walker discusses small steps to big changes
One key method for elevating education at Arthur O. Eve School was implementing new programs and opportunities for the students.
Under Parette Walker’s leadership as principal at the school, a new gifted and talented program was added to the campus to help it compete academically with other schools in the Buffalo Public School District and make it possible for gifted students without access to a gifted program at their local school to enroll.
Via gifted education, students are not only challenged more within the classroom but traditionally perform better on the testing used in most school performance calculations.
The specialized program at Arthur O. Eve School is open to applications from all students and remains in effect after Walker’s retirement.
Literacy is also a key component of improving school scores on standardized tests and increasing comprehension across subjects.
To increase access to reading opportunities, Arthur O. Eve School installed a book vending machine to provide students with the opportunity to obtain free books.
The unique machine was installed during Walker’s time at the school as an incentive to make literacy exciting and fun.
It utilizes a token system with students receiving one token per month. Then, much like a candy or chip machine, the token is used to redeem an item. Various grants and assistance from non-profits provided both funding for the custom machine and the dollars needed to keep it stocked with new reading materials.
These efforts to improve education and literacy earned Parette Walker recognition from the mayor of Buffalo, the Buffalo City Council and New York State Senator Timothy Kennedy. However, the real benefit for the retired principal is in the new opportunities students in her prior schools can look forward to based on the quality of their education.