Atlanta Strong: Meet Walden Faculty Member Dr. Kisha Walker
A commitment to social change makes the university “the best career decision by far.”
From the vibrant diversity of Atlanta, Dr. Kisha Walker is helping to shape and inspire the next generation of teachers.
As the academic coordinator for Walden University’s online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a specialization in Special Education (K–Age 21) degree program, Dr. Walker’s work touches her local community of Atlanta as well as communities across the United States.
“I battled over the decision to leave the classroom six years ago but felt rewarded by teaching the teachers who would teach the students,” Dr. Walker says. “I am so happy that I made that decision as I now have an opportunity to support both students and teacher candidates. Watching my teacher candidates shine is just as powerful as watching the students I used to teach have their ‘aha moments.’”
Dr. Walker launched her Walden career journey in 2009 as a university supervisor and began teaching master’s in education online courses in 2014. Since then, she has served as a senior contributing faculty member, doctoral committee member, course writer, and council member on several committees. In July 2018, she received the Faculty Excellence Award for Walden’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Human Sciences. Dr. Walker also teaches the last two courses in the MAT degree program, which involve the demonstration teaching experience for the master’s candidates.
“I continue to serve as a university supervisor, which allows me the opportunity to still have boots on the ground supporting our candidates as they complete their field experiences and prepare to take on the role of a special educator,” she says. “Educating and collaborating with our teacher candidates helps keep me abreast of the needs in the actual classrooms and communities as well as the importance of bringing the prestige back to teaching.”
We caught up with Dr. Walker recently to learn more about her inspiring work with MAT degree candidates, as well as her life in the vibrant, diverse city of Atlanta.
WALDEN: Can you tell us about your experiences living and working in Atlanta? What makes it unique and special?
DR. WALKER: My family and I have been in Atlanta for about 14 years now and I absolutely love it! I love the diversity, the opportunities, nature, and growth. Even though Atlanta is a melting pot consisting of multiple cultures and people from various states and countries, you still get a sense of southern hospitality. I love being able to get to the city in 20 minutes but also take a hike in the mountains 40 minutes away. It was the same experience teaching in the classroom, listening to students share their experiences and celebrate our similarities and differences as we strengthened our classroom community. Our experiences and differences can sometimes be a world apart; however, we used these unique opportunities to grow and learn together.
WALDEN: How has Atlanta’s diversity impacted you in your practice?
DR. WALKER: I began teaching in Philadelphia at an alternative school. Many of the challenges I initially faced as an educator were related to addressing students’ educational needs, in terms of identifying exceptionalities and an inability to read. When I relocated to an alternative school in Atlanta, I was met with similar challenges; however, the geographic areas and districts in which I worked had higher levels of diversity. There were greater concerns that began to arise as I worked with many students and families who had relocated from New Orleans and other areas devastated by natural disasters. In addition to battling serious educational and academic challenges, we had to address hunger, lack of essential resources, drugs, and trauma-related concerns. My immediate focus had to shift to cater to students’ essential needs before I could tap into academics.
Even as I moved into the public school system within my own community, there were some students who still faced similar socioeconomic and academic challenges. The geographic area and school district definitely play a huge part in the overall community outreach, access, and availability of resources to students and families. We worked extremely hard to create a village where everyone was involved as we provided equitable opportunities for all students. It was not uncommon, nor is it now, to see such a disparity as you travel across different communities and school districts; however, we had to work harder and extend our outreach to give students a fighting chance.
As a teacher of teachers, I make it a point that teacher candidates are aware of the intricate cultural dynamics and diversity that make up today’s classrooms and the importance of identifying these needs and supporting both students and their families to avoid what can potentially cause a negative impact on education.
WALDEN: Can you tell us about your community involvement in Atlanta?
DR. WALKER: I volunteer for the local student government council for the elementary school and I am a member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Teacher Leader Network, an affiliate of the National Board for Professional Teachers Standards organization, where we support teacher leaders and educators. I also provide consultation services and support to students working on their dissertations.
WALDEN: How has Walden helped support your success?
DR. WALKER: The leadership team, faculty, and staff are simply amazing at Walden. They recognize your talent and worth and provide you with endless opportunities to not only excel, but to share with others and make a difference in our quest for social change. Walden continues to foster new partnerships and cutting-edge technology that keep us in the forefront of education. I am excited to be a part of such a dynamic, diverse, accredited online college where faculty and staff share their expertise and experience and offer support without reservation.
WALDEN: What advice would you give future Walden faculty?
DR. WALKER: I would definitely let them know they’ve made one of the best career decisions by far if they are interested in social change! I would advise them that we are warm and welcoming and will call upon them to share their expertise and knowledge, pushing them past their comfort levels, in a brilliant way.
WALDEN: And what advice would you offer future Walden students who want to pursue teaching degrees?
DR. WALKER: I would let students know that we have been in the field for 50 years and continue to get better and better at meeting the needs of all of our learners, locally and globally. In addition to a robust curriculum and programs, we have some of the most dedicated, celebrated, and talented faculty I have seen by far. I would advise them to talk to our alumni and current students who are earning their online teaching degrees to hear about their authentic experiences.
Earn a Master of Arts in Teaching Online Degree
Walden’s online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a specialization in Special Education (K–Age 21) is designed to provide working professionals who hold bachelor’s degrees or higher with the education and experience they need to become effective first-time teachers.
Walden is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the only recognized national accreditor for educator preparation, promoting excellence in educator preparation through quality assurance and continuous improvement. As a student in Walden’s online master’s in special education degree program, you’ll engage with curriculum based on state and national industry standards. You’ll participate in virtual and school-based field experiences. You’ll learn best practices from national industry experts via videos.
And with the flexibility that Walden provides through its online platform, rolling start dates, and other key features, you can choose to advance your education while still working and enjoying your personal activities.
“It is very rewarding to know that we are leaders and trendsetters in the field of education,” Dr. Walker says. When you earn your teaching degree, you can become a leader and trendsetter in your school and community, too, and an advocate for social change.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
Walden University is approved by the Minnesota Professional Educator and Licensing Standards Board to offer the Master of Arts in Teaching, which leads to Minnesota Tier 3 licensure in special education (K–21). However, before Walden can recommend a candidate for teacher licensure, the candidate must also pass the required exams for Minnesota licensure adopted by the Minnesota Board of Teaching, undergo a Minnesota background check, and complete any other Minnesota Board of Teaching requirements beyond completion of Walden’s state-approved teacher preparation program.
Individuals interested in pursuing teacher licensure in states other than Minnesota may qualify for a comparable license by virtue of completing the Walden Minnesota-approved teacher preparation program; however, individuals must review their state’s teacher licensing regulations to ensure the program meets all requirements, paying particular attention to any requirements specific to out-of-state program completers. Prospective students seeking to be licensed in states other than Minnesota must research their state licensure requirements to determine (1) if they are required to complete a state-approved licensure program, and (2) if there are any other requirements that apply, especially requirements pertaining to programs provided by out-of-state (except Minnesota) or online institutions. Additionally, prospective students are advised if they choose to relocate to carefully review, evaluate and understand the requirements of the applicable licensure board in the state in which they intend to relocate. Learn more about professional licensure.
Individuals enrolling internationally must be supervised by a teacher with a valid U.S. state teaching license, in a school that follows a U.S.-based curriculum at the appropriate grade level for the license. Prospective students must check that the program is accepted for a teaching credential in the state in which they reside.
Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide general information on state licensure; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand and comply with all licensure requirements in the state in which they reside. Walden makes no representation or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain state licensure or endorsement.
Note to prospective Alabama students: State authorization to provide a program related to the preparation of teachers or other P–12 school/system personnel does not indicate eligibility for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate. Applicants who complete an educator preparation program at a non-Alabama institution must apply for an Alabama professional educator or professional leadership certificate through the Alabama Certificate Reciprocity Approach. Current requirements may be found at www.alsde.edu.
Note to all Pennsylvania residents: Walden University’s teacher preparation program is approved by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board as leading to licensure. Because this program is not reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, candidates are instructed to apply for Pennsylvania certification as out-of-state graduates of a teacher preparation program.
Note to all Washington residents: Eligibility for initial educator certification in Washington is based on completion of a state-approved educator preparation program. This program is approved in Minnesota and is authorized for field placements in Washington by the Professional Educators Standards Board. Even though you may be residing in Washington while in this program, your application for educator certification in Washington will be processed as an out-of-state application. Go to www.k12.wa.us/certification for more information. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for teacher advancement.