Return to Walker Charter Academy Helps Music Teacher Recall ‘Safe Space’

Return to Walker Charter Academy Helps Music Teacher Recall ‘Safe Space’

WALKER, Mich., Sept. 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The education community speaks often about the broad impact teachers have on students’ lives and the guidance they provide, quoting statistics of graduation rates and college acceptance. National Heritage Academy’s Walker Charter Academy is welcoming back Katelyn DeClark whose journey adds a category to that conversation: Instilling Confidence.

The first-year teacher and recent Cornerstone University graduate has returned to Walker to teach after spending her middle school years at the school. It was a life-changing experience for her.

“This is kind of my dream school because when I went here, I came out of a school where I was kind of struggling with friendships and being bullied a little bit, so I came in here as the shy girl,” DeClark said.

Walker’s choir and theater programs helped pull DeClark out of her shell, affirming her hopes of music playing a major role in her future.

“It really boosted my confidence a ton and it was a really special time in my life,” she said. “The teachers that poured into me and invested in my life, specifically in the music department, it just meant a lot to me. I love this school and when the job was posted I was just like, that’s where I want to be. I just love it here.”

DeClark has enjoyed the transition from college and student teaching to preparing for her first school year. While at Cornerstone, she studied Vocal Music Education and participated in their student-led chapel bands, University Chorale, and Credo, an a cappella group.

“I did every vocal music group I could, and I learned from a great professor (Dr. Kent Walters) who taught the importance of choral music and how choral music can be used to educate the whole child.”

DeClark spent the past few months working at a summer camp, so she’s prepared with plenty of silly songs to teach the kids, which should help the comfort level of the students early-on.

“When you hear them, they just sound fun and there are motions, but a lot of them have to do with learning names, a lot of them deal with pitch, a lot of them have to do with keeping a steady beat, and they’re just great ice breakers.

“I have a lot of them I’ll incorporate in the first week to get students involved and show that music is fun, and they don’t have to be embarrassed and know that this is a safe space.”

The same safe space which welcomed her not so many years ago.

Walker Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Walker, Mich., serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 98 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

SOURCE – National Heritage Academies

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