Annual Report 2019-2020
From the Board Chair
Dear Walden Community,
I am in my sixth year as a member of the Board of Trustees, and in my third as Board Chair, and I’ve never been more proud to be a member of the Walden community. This past year has tested the faculty, administration, Board and parents like no other. Yet, through it all we have been united in ensuring that the Walden mission not only survives, but thrives.
When the pandemic hit, the Board immediately authorized applying for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program and in fact, we were one of the first schools to receive funds through this program. The funds received allowed Walden to meet the new demands of teaching during a pandemic and ensured job stability for our faculty and staff. Generous donations to the Walden Fund from parents, grandparents, faculty and alumni ensure that Walden's future is bright. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you for your generosity.
In my most recent letter for the annual report I noted that our strategic plan emphasizes that the Walden experience is about more than just teaching our children to read and write. It is about teaching our children to think, to communicate, to interact with others who might be different than them, to understand the larger context of their surroundings and to generally make them productive members of society. During a year which saw our children adjust to online learning, witness the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a contentious election, and an assault on our democracy, Walden has helped our students (and their parents) process all of it. While I am hopeful that 2021 will bring healing and health, I am heartened to know that whatever unfolds, Walden will be here for our children, guiding the way.
With admiration and high hopes,
Chair, Board of Trustees
Along with all schools in Los Angeles County and millions of children across the world, Walden faced a radical paradigm shift to remote learning in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our dedicated teachers and administrators responded to the sudden switch by designing an all-virtual learning program that was rooted in our mission and kept children at the center. We rapidly adapted to new technologies and innovative strategies for virtual classrooms to provide continuity in learning and program quality. Our new virtual schedules included both synchronous and asynchronous activities as well as opportunities for small-group learning and student collaboration. A priority was continuing to support students' health and social-emotional wellbeing from a distance, in consideration of each family's unique situation.
Despite the challenges, we saw a high level of student engagement. This is in large part due to the strong relationships teachers and students hold with each other and the inventive ways in which teachers, administrators, and parents maintained a sense of community with students. While we couldn't be together on campus, we stayed connected with each other. Our community came together for all-school assembly three mornings a week to share learning and ideas, and we continued to work together to uphold traditions and celebrate each other virtually. Our spring events, including Big Help Day, FEAST (Families Eating and Storytelling Together), and Open House all took place in a reimagined virtual format, and we added virtual Bingo and Trivia Nights that were enjoyed by students and adults alike.
The Walden community demonstrated exemplary grace, agility, and resilience in the face of the pandemic and brand-new models for teaching and learning. We are grateful for the myriad of compassionate actions that have strengthened, inspired, and uplifted us all.
Enjoy this sampling of learning experiences from our spring trimester at home:
Student Art Show Home Edition
6th Grade Assembly: Spoon
"Brave" Student Video
Walden has been deeply committed to social justice and being an anti-racist institution since our founding in 1970. Celebrating the diversity of our community and the dignity of each individual member is a core value for our school.
Students learn to be welcoming of diversity in all its forms in our curriculum from Pre-K on. Our Social Studies units focus on teaching children to understand targeted and non-targeted groups, the history of immigration to California, and the gender spectrum. Children learn to identify injustices and take action as upstanders and allies. Writing units and conversations about family and self help children understand themselves, others, and the many different family structures within our community and the world around them. We help children celebrate the uniqueness of each individual while embracing the power of community and collaboration.
Walden Equity (W.E.) is a group of faculty, staff, Board members, and parents brought together by a collective goal of increasing the social responsibility, justice, equality, and inclusivity of our school community. Through our work together, we seek to create a community where everyone belongs—as an individual and a family. W.E. holds workshops, discussions, and events throughout the year to thoughtfully open honest dialogues about Walden’s progress relating to these goals and to challenge our community to think critically about the four pillars of identity, diversity, justice, and action. W.E. also facilitates dialogue through affinity groups.
Our teaching faculty, which comprises 50% people of color, participates in yearly diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings to continue growth in their own lives and collective work.
Most recently prior to the pandemic in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years, we held several professional development and parent education workshops with Visions, Inc., a leading national nonprofit training and consulting organization specializing in diversity and inclusion. In response to the countless killings of Black Americans across the country and the subsequent national response to persistent racism, we hosted a series of virtual anti-racist parent trainings in partnership with Visions, Inc. over the summer. These trainings provided a space for community members to reflect, discover, listen, share perspectives, and work together to address racism as we move forward in our larger communities.