COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Christopher Walker has only been in the classroom for a short time as a teacher but he’s making quite an impact on his students.
Walker teaches Language Arts and Social Studies at Acme Delco Middle School in Columbus County.
He says keeping his students engaged with his daily lesson plan is critical to learning. That’s why when he reads to them, he alters his voice for each character as a way to maintain their interest.
“You don’t want them to come to class with the expectation that’s its going to be another boring day in Mr. Walker’s class,” Walker said. “You want them to come to class enthusiastic, excited, to be curious about what crazy voices Mr. Walker is going to do today.”
Three words sum up Walker’s passion for teaching.
“Creating positive change,” he said.
Having earned education degrees from East Carolina University and Pembroke University, there was only one place Walker wanted to teach — back home in Columbus County where he was raised.
The person who inspired him to teach was Janyce Barnes, Walker’s fourth grade teacher at Chadbourne Middle School. By the time she retired, she worked 30 years with Columbus County Schools.
“She pushed me, she would not let me slack off and she would not let me become just another statistic,” he said. “She saw potential in me and she fostered that potential and that was a pivotal moment in my life. It really solidified with me that this is something I could do in the future as well.”
Walker goes on to add, “If you can have one great teacher at a young age, then that can make all the difference in your life.”
A difference Walker hopes to make in the lives of his students and to encourage them to dream big.
“There’s a world beyond the society they’re accustomed to,” he said. “There’s a much larger world and creating that awareness, that global awareness is something the county really pushes and what we try to embrace in our classrooms at Acme Delco.”
Although Walker’s only been teaching for two years, his colleagues say he’s making a huge impact at this small school which has only 131 students.
“He has very high expectations for his students and I think that’s one of the things that make him unique as a teacher,” said Charles Neal who teaches 6th grade math and science at the school. “He recognizes that each student does have the capability and he does his best to pull that out on each of his lessons and keeping them engaged and getting to know them as individuals.”
In a cultural climate where other people’s opinions are often attacked, Walker challenges his students to be critical thinkers and how to respectfully disagree.
“If they can speak with one another and see different points of view on different topics it can not only change but inspire them to internalize that information particularly in the future because differing opinions are what you’re going to run into the rest of your life and these students are no different and being able to have an open mind to be able to listen to what other people have to say without criticizing without condemning is going to be a fantastic character trait for them to have later on,” he said.
What motivates him to bring his best to class each day?
“These kids, they deserve the best,” he said. “They’re here every day. I’m here everyday. Its a job but its also very important for me to create some sort of impact and as long as they keep helping me, I’ll keep helping them.”
Walker was nominated by a former student who wrote: “Mr. Walker taught me that if we give respect to others, our peers or elders, we will get respect back.” We asked Walker how he felt about this.
“That’s inspiring to be honest,” he said. “If that student took nothing else from my class I think that’s a valuable life lesson to have learned and I agree. You have to give respect to get respect. Respect, responsibility and accountability are three key items we push in this classroom and all these students know it.”
On behalf of WWAY and our sponsor, Mattress Furniture Liquidators, we are recognizing Christopher Walker as this week’s Teacher of the Week and have presented him with a $100 gift.
“It feels fantastic,” he said. “It feels like I’m finally be recognized for making a difference and that’s hugely impactful. It’s inspiring and it’s only going to push me forward to make me be even better.