For Freda Walker, K-8 music teacher at Johnson Street Global Studies, teaching is a family legacy. For years, Freda watched her grandmother teach at Bessemer Elementary, as what Freda calls an “example of dedicated service.” Now each day, when Freda walks into her own classroom, she brings the same dedicated service to her own students. That’s why she was nominated by her principal, Kris Wheat, who said of Freda:
“Ms. Walker is passionate about student achievement in and out of the classroom. She exudes positivity and has an infectious smile. She approaches each challenge, including online learning, with a growth mindset and a ‘We got this’ mentality.”
As a music teacher, Freda remembers moments where her dedication is mirrored back to her by the students she serves. For example, she remembers when one of her students decided he wanted to audition for the All-State Chorus.
“He took private lessons… About a week later he came to my office, and we found out he had made it . He slid down the wall crying,” Freda says. “This was a very big moment for him because it was the first time he really tried something he thought he couldn’t do and succeeded. He went on to be a soloist in the Morehouse Glee Club.”
But this is just one example of the kind of dedication Freda works to demonstrate in her role at Johnson Street. Outside of the classroom, she has found ways to make an impact as well, like founding the “Ladies of Johnson Street” mentorship group.
“The aim of this group is to inspire students toward sisterhood and character education,” she explains.
Besides her grandmother, Freda points to other strong women who have been inspirational educators in her life and given her the motivation to be better.
When asked who her biggest influence has been, Freda says Dr. Rebecca Walker Steele, her college chorale director.
“She directed with such grace and poise,” Freda says. “I hope to one day reach her level of mastery.”
Freda also notes how inspiring her colleague (and one of our previous Extraordinary Educators!) Coshenda Clark has been in her time at Johnson Street.
“Coshenda is a second-grade teacher at our school and has been instrumental in my transition to Johnson Street,” Freda explains. “She always teachers with passion and excellence and expects all students to learn without exception.”
As a magnet school, Johnson Street prioritizes teaching students lessons in the context of the greater world, diverse cultures, and global issues. Johnson Street, as Freda sees it, is a place full of teachers and staff that go out of their way to ensure every student receives the dedicated attention they deserve.
“I am proud to teach at this school because of the warm and supportive environment,” Freda says. “Students know they are loved and cared for regardless of their home situation. I also know that we are making great progress with our students.”
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