Walker will head to Columbia University in January
By Stephen Elliott
Staff Reporter Dec 1, 2014
Karen Walker, Head of Telluride Mountain School, was recently awarded a Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership fellowship at the Teachers College at Columbia University.
The fellowship brings heads of school from leading independent schools around the nation and the world to Columbia University for two weeks each January for study and networking, specifically focused on independent schools.
“It’s a very different world that independent school leaders operate in,” Walker said. “We don’t benefit from the same network as our public school peers, so any opportunity that you have to mingle with colleagues is excellent.”
Independent schools are funded by tuition and individual contributions rather than tax money, and are not beholden to governments or religious organizations for their curriculum.
The Telluride Mountain School, with about 100 students between pre-K and high school, prides itself on experiential, hands-on and non-traditional learning methods. Independent schools do not have the built-in networks for continued education common in public school systems, underlying the importance of programs like the Klingenstein Fellowship for school leaders like Walker.
The 2015 group of educators comes from all over the United States and also features heads of school from Australia, Cayman Islands, Ethiopia, Kenya and Singapore.
The fellowship was established in 1991 and is awarded to 20 heads of school from around the world each year. The Klingenstein Center works to provide leaders of independent schools the unique and necessary resources required for them to succeed, and the fellowship is one such program that allows heads of schools to congregate and share best practices.
“All fellowships and graduate programs focus on instructional leadership, collaboration and teamwork, ethical decision-making, reflective practice and a commitment to social justice and diversity,” wrote TMS Advancement Director Rachel Loomis-Lee in a press release announcing the fellowship.
While at Columbia, each head of school will complete a research project under the guidance of Columbia professors. Walker’s project will look at experiential education and its impacts on non-cognitive skills.
“Even if the whole program was just meeting the other heads and doing my research project, it would still be a great benefit to the school,” Walker said. “But it’s going to be more than that.”
In New York, Walker and the other heads will work on independent research, participate in study groups and visit schools in the area.
“We will be looking at models of different types of education and discussing leading-edge approaches,” Walker said. “Independent schools are quick to move, quick to change. I’ll learn a lot about what’s new in education and what’s at the forefront.”
Walker applied for the fellowship by submitting her resume, transcripts and essays, in addition to outlining her proposed research project. She sees the honor as recognition of the school’s success as opposed to her own.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’s an honor and a distinction for the school to have me chosen, and it’s an opportunity to see what’s happening in the field.”
Walker has been with the Mountain School since 1998 as a teacher, board member and administrator.