Strode teacher transitioning to counseling

It’s been a busy year for Beverly Walker.

Walker, a second-grade teacher at Strode Station Elementary School, is currently finishing up her second master’s degree in educational counseling from the University of the Cumberlands. She graduates in May with the hopes of transitioning into counseling next school year. Walker previously attended Berea College and Georgetown College.

Walker, a Lexington native, has been teaching for 22 years, with 16 of those years being in Clark County.

“Before that, I had taught three years in Georgetown and three years in Fayette County,” Walker said.

Walker was in charge of this year’s schoolwide health fair; she also started a girl’s group called NICE Girls that meets every Monday.

“NICE Girls is an acronym for Nutritional Insight Confidence and Exercise,” Walker said. “Each week we talk about healthy snacks. We do a lesson on, and then we exercise. We do yoga each week. I’ve got yoga mats, and we do a yoga lesson.

“The girls get to decide what our snack will be each week. I’ll show them some samples, and then we come in, and we prepare the snacks together. The focus is…on building their self-esteem. Health and exercise, I think, are some major components with building that self-esteem.”

Walker has also been doing one-on-one counseling with students as part of her practicum.

Walker is also a coordinator for a program at First Baptist Church on Highland Street called Read to Succeed, which helps about 50-60 students a week.

Teaching is a calling, Walker said.

“It was just like a childhood dream or goal that I had for myself,” Walker said. “I always played school, and it’s just something that I’ve always done. My mom ran a private school and day care, so I started working with kids at the age of 13. I did some baby-sitting before that. More than half of my life I’ve worked with kids.”

But now, Walker wants to work with children in a more one-on-one capacity.

Walker said she dreams of opening a community center in Clark County. When she worked at Shearer Elementary School before coming to Strode, Walker said she saw a need for students to have extra support after school hours.

“I want to do the community center because I can still reach those kids in two different capacities,” Walker said. “I can speak with them one on one and help them, but then I can also help them in an academic capacity as well.”

Walker said teaching could be challenging at times, but knowing she’s made a difference keeps her going.

“Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Walker said. “And I live by that, and it makes a big difference.”

Walker said she always tries to greet her students every morning with a fist bump, high five or hug. It’s her way of ensuring students start the day with a dose of positivity.

“Every day…we decide for ourselves what kind of day we’re going to have,” Walker said.

Walker said fostering positivity is crucial in an era during which it’s hard to escape constant negativity online. It can also be challenging to engage students because of their short attention spans and already overstimulated minds.

“I just think kids are so consumed by negativity, just in their environments and what they’re exposed to,” Walker said.

Walker said she hopes her students know she cares and wants them to succeed.

“You never realize the students that you impact or that you affect the most,” Walker said. “I had a student leave me, and he wrote a letter to me for teacher appreciation about how much I have made a difference for him…I still have that letter … so you don’t realize the ones that you think you affect the least are the ones you affect the most.”

Outside of work, Walker said she enjoys curling up with a good book, especially at the beach. She’s in the midst of planning her next trip as a graduation present to herself. Walker said she also enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. Walker’s daughter is currently pursuing her teaching degree at Eastern Kentucky University.

Walker said she’s nervous but excited to transition into counseling soon. She said she hopes her 22-years in teaching will aid her in the transition. Walker said she’s thankful for all of her families — her Strode family, her church family and of course, her immediate family — for supporting her through her journey.

“I go nonstop, and [my family is] like ‘you have to slow down; you work so hard,’” Walker said. “Yes, but it’s embedded in me. My father, who’s deceased, always told me if you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all…whenever I do anything, I always give 110 percent because that stays in the back of my mind.”

Walker said she’d learned a lot along the way, throughout her career, and in life, and she hopes to pass it on to others.

“Just like I tell my kids you can do anything you set your mind to,” Walker said. “Making a difference..just in general, in our community, and then the world as a whole, and that can start with you, which you have to make a choice to put in the work that comes before that.”