Friday, October 20, 2017

So how do you judge a school's success?

So how do you judge a school's success? How good is your child's school?

Does anyone really believe a school's performance can be determined by how a subgroup of the total school population, sometimes as young as 8 years old (that's right - 8 years old) scores of a battery of tests that are entirely too long, while at the same time too narrow, written (devised is probably a better word - sounds a little more contrived) by educrats who have no idea what skills or knowledge our kids will need in the future?  In the words of Chris Berman, "C'mon man!"

Even the folks at ABC news get it. (I know, shocker!) In a post entitled Future skills: Report reveals tools school kids will need to thrive in jobs market of 2030, the authors outline what schools should be focused on as we prepare kids for this uncertain future.  You can check out the post at the following link:

As I read this and almost identical articles about what kids will need to succeed, I see so little correlation with our current curricula.  Why?  It's a classic "tail wagging the dog."  As long as we spend hours, change that, days, change that, weeks, change that, months in pursuit of putting up a good score on state mandated accountability tests, we will continue to do a tremendous disservice to our children.  The saddest part to me? So many folks in this business who I believe truly want to do what best for kids, have gone down the rabbit hole, like lemmings into the sea.  I think about the Lorax (note: The author's name deleted here to avoid controversy), who stood up, confronting the madness and said, "Who will speak for the trees?" Well, "Who will speak for the children?"

"C'mon man!"

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Checking In...

Hi All,

I just wanted everyone to know that I am still alive, still trying to change the world, and still so crazy busy that I have not been able to carve out the time to post.  My apologies.  I'll be posting more often in the coming days, talking about technology and what's going on at Carolina Voyager Charter School.  

I'll also be using my blog as a personal therapy tool as we try to avoid going down that rabbit hole where so many schools have gone, chasing test scores and preparing kids for testing rather than life.  Yeah, our kids didn't do as well as they had done the year prior on the end all and be all state assessments and we find ourselves doing a lot of self-reflection.  I'll keep you "posted" on our progress.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Marathon Kids Running Club at Carolina Voyager Charter School

When I envisioned starting a Marathon Kids Running Club at my school, I figured I might have 25 students sign up to run each week.  By the second week of our program, I had 113 runners (out of student body of 129 kids!).  Our Marathon Kids run 1 mile during their Monday PE class, 1 mile after school on Tuesdays, and 1 mile on Fridays.  In addition, we encourage our children to run and track their miles outside of school.  Our goal for this school year is for our kids to run 104. 8 miles, or the equivalent of four marathons.  Just recently we were awarded a substantial grant from Marathon Kids and Nike to cover the costs associated with the operation of our club.  A special thanks goes out to Nurrie Wilson for her support of our kids.

David Quick, reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier, published an article this week about our running club.  Check it out at the link below.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

First Marathon Kids Running Club in South Carolina

     This fall, Carolina Voyager Charter School kicks off their own chapter of Marathon Kids, an exciting new running club.   Marathon Kids was born out of the belief that kids deserve to live happier, healthier lives. Kay Morris, a self-described “middle-aged, slow runner,” founded Marathon Kids in 1995 after being motivated by completing her first running log. She created a program based on the idea that this same simple concept could motivate kids, boost their physical activity and introduce them to the joy of running.  Marathon Kids has partnered with Nike to take this youth running program to the next level.  So far, Marathon Kids has transformed the lives of over two million children.  
     Marathon Kids at Voyager meets weekly after school on our campus.  All parents and family members are invited to join us each week for our run.  Over the course of the year, our Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third grade students will run the equivalent of two marathons (54.2 miles).  Their last mile will be a community celebration at a surprise site off campus.  For each mile they complete, students will earn charms to proudly display on their Marathon Kids necklaces.  Once finished their first marathon, they will receive specially designed Nike T-shirts and a certificate of completion.
     The Marathon Kids Club at Carolina Voyager is one of a number of wellness programs being offered at the school.  The goals of Voyager’s Wellness Committee are to provide educational activities to promote our student’s physical and mental well-being.  Other wellness activities at the school include planting, caring for, and harvesting food from our school garden, participating in cooking and nutrition activities with the Executive Chef Kevin of Indaco Restaurant Charleston, learning with Dr. Warr, our MUSC Adopt-A-Doc, learning about nutrition through our Wellness newsletter, and participating in two daily recess periods. All of these activities are building life-long habits that will ensure our children live happier and healthier lives.
     Carolina Voyager is excited to be the first Marathon Kids Running Club in the South.  We join hundreds of other clubs all across the nation, running for a healthier life.  Be on the lookout for our kids sporting their Marathon Kids shirts at one of the many road races that are such a part of our Charleston community.
     Anyone interested in learning more about the Marathon Kids program at Carolina Voyager may contact Dr. Harry Walker, School Leader, either by phone (843-203-3891) or by email (  We welcome donations to support this great program for our children. 


Monday, September 14, 2015

A Positive View of School Choice

            The school choice and charter school movements have taken it on the nose in recent discussions related to reformation efforts in the Charleston County School District.  A great many conversations have been generated following the publication of the Post and Courier’s recent series on school choice.  While most of the attention has focused on the unintended consequences to some area schools, we need to balance the conversation and not lose sight of the positive impact that school choice has had across Charleston County.
            The need for greater diversity in the downtown schools is a common thread heard at each Charleston County Board of Trustees Meeting.   While everyone embraces the concept, little headway has been made to ensure that district schools reflect their surrounding neighborhoods.   While a principal in a traditional public school, I came to view public charter schools as somewhat an enemy of public education.  Today, as I begin my second year at the helm of a successful charter school, I have come to recognize that charters are not the problem, but rather an important part of the solution to fixing what is troubling the public schools.  Can they help address the issues facing downtown schools in CCSD?  We believe they can.  Our charter is successfully making inroads to help reknit the social fabric in this city we so proudly call home.
             Carolina Voyager Charter School, located downtown at 30 Race Street, is offering school choice to a diverse group of 130 children and their families, many of whom have had few choices in the past for their children’s education.  Located in the same downtown zip code as the district’s schools with the highest percentage of minority students, Voyager’s student body is one of only nine CCSD schools (out of a total of 84 schools) that come close to mirroring the demographics of the school district.  Our current student population is 48% White, 40% African American, and 6% Hispanic.  Over 40% of our children qualify for free or reduced lunches.  While our students come from all over Charleston County, nearly half reside in downtown or in North Charleston neighborhoods.  Our parents come from all walks of life; single parents struggling on public assistance, doctors and nurses, street sweepers and sanitation workers, law enforcement and firefighters, account executives, and restaurant and hospitality workers.  Our children are learning to participate and contribute effectively in an environment that reflects the society in which they will need to grow and prosper in their future lives.    
            In our first year of operation, significant growth in student achievement was recorded in both and reading and math.  The overwhelming majority of our students exceeded one year’s growth in their reading skills as measured by the Fountas and Pinnell Reading Benchmark Assessment.  Students reading on or above grade level in Kindergarten increased from 25% in the fall to 71% in the spring.  In First Grade, students meeting or exceeding expectations for reading increased from 16% to 74% over the course of the year.  The percentage of second graders reading on or above grade level increased from 64% to 85% from the fall to the spring.  In Math, Student Growth Percentile Scores on the STAR assessments exceeded expectations in all three grades.
            In addition to the pride we feel about our students’ achievements, we are proud of our diversity and our sense of community.  They provide me with daily reminders of the feelings of unity and togetherness that followed the tragedy at Mother Emmanuel.  Unraveling segregation in our schools is no simple task.  No one single approach will work.  There are islands of hope and promise right in the midst of our community.  Our charter school is one such place.  Readers can learn more about Carolina Voyager by visiting our website at or our Facebook Page at  I also invite interested readers to call the school at (843) 203-3891 to arrange a tour.

Harry Walker, Ed.D
Founding School Leader
Carolina Voyager Charter School

Monday, September 7, 2015

Still reading? I'm still trying to change the world...

I stink at blogging.  Seriously stink.  So sorry.  I certainly don't deserve 52,300 page views. Nine months since my last post? 

Life continues to get in the way of sharing news with the world. We continue to change the world, one small corner of it at a time. Current project - changing the social fabric of Charleston, SC.  Can one school really alter the face of public education in a city school system that after years of good intentions, remains pretty much segregated and under performing?  Margaret Mead said it best - Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  We are small, but we are thoughtful, and at times think we should be committed.  You can catch up on the latest happenings at our sweet little school in Charleston - Carolina Voyager Charter School at:

Thanks for reading and for the umpteenth time, I'll try to do a better job of posting.  Promise...  Yeah, right.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Got Code? Carolina Voyager in the News (Again)

Great news for anyone still reading my blog.  I am not dead.  Just dead tired from trying to change the world...

Opening this new charter school is more work than I could have ever imagined.  But, more importantly, the most important work I have never done.  Ah, the world of charters.  The stories I could tell, and I will, once I don't have  to play nicely with folks who say they stand for children and clearly do not.  But, I'm in the South and one of the first rules of Southern civility is to be nice even to people who are not nice to you or the charter movement.  I wish they followed the same rules. There's a book in here.  Just not now.

Now, it's about my amazing staff and students and the work we are all doing down here in South Carolina.  Here's the most recent piece from the Charlestown Post and Courier.  Check it out below:

I won't promise again that I will post more often as I barely have time to come up for air (and Cabernet).

Public education is in trouble.  Charters so want to help. We are not the enemy...