Faculty and Staff Spotlight
Annual Report 2019-2020
Danica Hamilton | At Walden since 2005
I knew when I entered my first classroom at Walden that I found more than a school; I found a home. When I received my teaching credential I was a little resigned trying to find a progressive school that matched my ideals, so when I moved to Pasadena, I was thrilled to find Walden. Like many teachers at Walden, I began my journey as an associate teacher. I taught 4th and 5th grade before becoming the lead 6th grade teacher for over a decade. While not many people can honestly say this, I absolutely adore 12-year-olds, especially those raised at Walden. Here they get to be leaders, mentors, and dedicate a year to deepening their confidence before the challenges of middle school. I developed a theater program, began the 6th grade trip to The Teton Science Schools in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and familiarized myself with the surrounding independent schools so I could best support our students and their families as they search for their next school. It’s my commitment to continue traditions and create new rites of passage so the unique 6th grade experience will have a lasting impact on our graduates to solidify their Walden journey in their capstone year. My passion for teaching 6th grade, and specifically teaching at Walden, grew stronger every year.
And then I made the decision that I wanted to be a full-time mom and also continue to work at Walden. It took years to really take on the reflection process I did with my students each year to write their memoir and graduation speech to see this personal goal of my own. While I loved teaching, I knew there would be another teacher who was looking for this opportunity the way I was when I first came to Walden, and when we interviewed Ella from her home in New York City, excited to move across the country if it meant being in the right school, I knew our Walden kids would be in good hands.
And just like Walden differentiates the curriculum to meet the needs of its students, Walden found a way to craft a position that is perfectly suited to my needs and strengths. I get to continue as Matriculation Specialist since I had become an expert in that process already, and I also have the opportunity to continue to work with Ella and the 6th graders not only on matriculation but to support in any way needed to meet their needs.
I also love supporting the Walden program, given my passion for teaching, and it is such a joy working on the administration team now as Program Administrator.
For years I would tell everyone that teaching 6th grade was my dream job, and it most definitely was! Now one year after giving birth to my baby Bria, having the flexibility to work around her schedule and still stay connected to Walden doing the things I love that make a difference for the whole school makes this my new dream job.
Walden has taught me kindness, patience, and how to be present to the joy in each moment, even in the face of transitional challenges and change. The Walden community has shown me how to use a village to raise a child and helped shape who I am and how I mother just as much as I have had a hand in co-creating the Walden experience.
Often our most used phrases start to sound cliche, but I can attest that it’s really true that once you are part of the Walden community, you can always come home to Walden.