During this crazy time, between starting a new school year and still being in a pandemic, a lot has changed. From being fully remote last year to being entirely in person this year, from being stuck at home 24/7 to being able to going out more and seeing friends and family, and from John Youngquist, East High School’s former principal leaving to being introduced to a new principal, Terita Walker, all of us as an East High School community have experienced a lot in the past year.
With all these new changes, you may be asking yourself, who is Terita Walker? Ms. Walker is the new East High School principal. She was born in Chicago, Illinois to Gayle Walker and Terry Walker. Mrs. Walker was a dietitian for the lunch program in Chicago Public Schools and Mr. Walker was the supervisor of management information systems for the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago. “As a child I loved listening to my mother tell stories about the kids she would connect with, while working for the lunch program,” Walker stated, which later influenced her into becoming an educator. She also
was a trained dancer as a child which eventually led to cheerleading for the Denver Broncos, Arena football and Denver Nuggets.
Walker went to Whitney Young High School. After highschool she then earned her Bachelor's degree in Public Relations and Marketing at Southern Illinois University. She was also a big time track and field runner in college. She went on to become a business developer for Wells Fargo Financial. Though the job was very steady, Walker decided business wasn’t right for her and went back to college to get her Masters degree in education. After that, Walker became a substitute teacher at Marquette Elementary/Middle school in Chicago. “I had a sub experience that made me realize this was my thing and I still keep in contact with some of those kids today,” she explained. Walker then got a job opportunity at that same school as a 7th grade teacher, and later on became a 4th grade and 9th grade teacher in Chicago. She also taught a college access class for college essay writing.
In 2005, Walker decided to leave Chicago and come to Kipling, CO. There, she taught at Justice High School and even started a cheerleading team she coached. “It was one of the coolest experiences,” Walker emphasized. During her time at Justice High School, Walker was studying to obtain a counseling degree and eventually moved to Montebello High School for her counseling internship for a year, also coaching cheerleading there.
In 2008, Walker was offered a job at East High school as a first year counselor and even became the cheerleading coach. She later on became an assistant principal in 2017. Walker has been at East High school for 13 years and counting, explaining how East has shaped her into the person she is today. Also, being a mother of a 12 year old daughter has affected the way she interacts with her students. Walker explained how she took on the role as the East principal, not only because her mother influenced her, but as she stated, “East is a part of me.“
As the new principal, she is excited for the feeling of community and connectedness that she’s hoping to bring back after this long year and a half of isolation. While being principal can be stressful and challenging, Walker is doing a great job making an effort to make sure everyone is feeling included and together. One of the biggest changes Walker is excited about is Advisory. She explained, “Advisory is grounded in social and emotional learning and will be extremely valuable.”
Though a lot has changed in a year and a half, having a new principal will be a great change. While Mr. Youngquist did an amazing job running the school and no one could replace him, Walker already has big plans to create more of a community at East. She takes the time to get to know her students and staff and shows that she cares. Even though being principal is a big responsibility and can be very stressful, Ms. Walker has a bright future ahead of her.