It’s Not Always About An A

Psychology teacher Amy Walker is known around the building for a unique teaching style


Anika Paulette, Staff Writer

     People know the feeling. You have an upcoming deadline on an essay or a homework assignment but life has been stretching you so thin you haven’t had the time to work on it. It’s terrible, and the F you’ll inevitably see in your gradebook until you get it in will make you feel even worse. You just wish that your teacher would have a little mercy on you— well sometimes that may be the case.

     She’s been a constant at this school since she was a student teacher, leaving only once back in 2007 to teach at Trailridge for a semester. But she returned immediately. This year she replaces retired teacher Janine Deines as the International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator.

     “I’ve only really ever taught in this building,” Walker said. “I student taught here. Since I’ve been here, I have taught freshman English, senior English, AP Psychology, Psych 1, Psych 2, SL and HL Psychology for IB and variations of that and Theory of Knowledge.”

     Walker is largely excited about her new role as IB coordinator, despite how intimidating a responsibility it may seem. According to Walker, adjusting to such a big position can also be a bit of a challenge at times.

As a student, I learned much better in rooms where I felt like the teacher took an interest in me.”

— Amy Walker

     “There’s just a really big learning curve trying to figure out all the behind the scenes things that I just wasn’t as aware of previously,” Walker said. “It’s definitely a challenge. I’m excited about it, excited to see where it’s going to go.”

     In an interesting turn of events, despite what many may think, Walker wasn’t actually planning on being a psychology teacher —  she originally planned on doing clinical psychology. Her passion for the subject hasn’t faded, but how she wanted to work with that passion has changed and reshaped itself over the years. She went from wanting to be a psychologist to a guidance counselor, and eventually to a full-fledged teacher. 

     “When I graduated from high school, the plan was for me to go to college and grad school to do clinical psychology working with an adolescent population,” Walker said. “I finished my bachelor’s in psychology, and decided that my original plan was not what I wanted to do any longer. I started a master’s in organizational leadership, and I kind of sort of hated every minute of it and decided this was not for me. 

     Then I thought, ‘Well, what do I think I want to do?’ Which led me to get into counseling. In the state of Kansas, you have to teach for two years before you can become a guidance counselor.”

     As she fully graduated from college, she still wasn’t exactly expecting to become a teacher like she is now. Her expectations were misled by inaccurate predictions of the job market, but she still managed to do what she loves nowadays.

     “When I graduated, they told me I would probably never teach psychology full time, because they didn’t think there would ever be a need for it,” Walker said. “So I really didn’t anticipate doing what I do now.”

     As for any future plans for her career, Walker says she’s fine where she is now. She’s getting her master’s in Media Psychology, and finds it mildly reassuring that there are other options out there for her if she finds her work doesn’t make her happy anymore. Of course, it looks like that day isn’t coming anytime soon.

     “I tell everybody, I will do this job until I wake up one day and decide I don’t like it anymore,” Walker said. “Right now, I have no intention of changing what I’m doing because I like it. But it’s nice to know that there are options if I decided that this was no longer making me happy.”

     Walker’s main source of inspiration and motivation is her students. She loves watching them learn, and hearing their stories about when things studied in class occur in the real world. Walker’s theories on education reflect her own experiences both as a student and as a teacher. 

     “As a student, I learned much better in rooms where I felt like the teacher took an interest in me,” Walker said. 

     Walker’s current students certainly notice that in her classroom. 

     “I personally love Walker’s teaching style,” senior Alastar Brown said. “She makes me feel like she values my learning more than the number on the paper. She weighs our educational work more than things like test grades. It makes me feel more comfortable in her class.” 

     This is something that Walker holds true to in her own philosophies, as it is what she believes to be important in the classroom.

     “I’m a really big believer that we should focus on learning, and are you learning things?” she said. “It’s not always just did you get an A.”