New Kramer Elementary School principal Kate Walker has wanted to be a teacher since when she was an 8-year-old in the third grade.
“I had great teachers who helped me and pushed me to do my best and I want to be able to do the same,” she said.
Walker worked 13 years as a reading teacher in the Garland ISD before coming to Dallas ISD for the 2013-14 school year.
For the past three years, she served as an assistant principal at nearby Anne Frank Elementary School. Now, Walker is excited about the next step in her educational career.
Walker replaces Katie Wanserski Eska, who was named the new North Dallas High School principal in July. Walker was tabbed to lead Kramer on July 31, leaving her less than a month to prepare for the new role.
“I just jumped in with both feet,” she said. “There hasn’t been a lot of sleep. It’s been quite a journey.
[pullquote-left]“We can’t teach them reading, math, and writing until they feel safe at school.”[/pullquote-left]
One of her biggest pushes this school year will be implementing more social emotional learning (SEL) strategies. Kramer has partnered with the Momentous Institute to train teachers on new skills that will allow them to help students better handle their emotions and become more self-aware. The program also shows teachers better ways to handle situations when students become upset.
“In Dallas ISD, a lot of kids come to us with a lot of trauma, a lot of baggage, and we weren’t equipped to help them with that,” Walker said. “We can’t teach them reading, math, and writing until they feel safe at school.”
Also on the agenda for Kramer this year is International Baccalaureate (IB) certification. The teaching staff has been working towards this goal for three years. Schools that carry the IB certification have a curriculum that, among other things, incorporates quality practices from the IB global school community, encourages critical thinking, advocates consideration of issues from both a local and global context, and works to develop multilingual students. Only two DISD elementary schools are certified so far. Both Kramer and Preston Hollow Elementary are working toward certification.
Walker said being an elementary principal is like being a movie star. She loves the hugs and high fives she gets when she walks through the halls. Her goal is to learn every student’s name, though with an enrollment of more than 500, she has her work cut out for her.
“I have great teachers on staff,” Walker said “I’m excited to see them in action because they have done such a good job at P.D. [professional development] and making their plans.”