This semester, CHSAA will launch a new series of articles highlighting the different facets of leadership across membership. We hope that a brief glimpse into their leadership background will give you a better understanding of why they are strong advocates of the vision and core values of the Colorado High School Activity Association.
Terita Walker has been in education for the past 20 years and has been at Denver East High School for the last 15 years. For the past two years she has been the principal of the school. CHSAA benefits from her expertise in many areas of the association. Terita has served as a member of the CHSAA Board of Directors, a member of the Equity Committee, and currently serves as Chair of the Ice Hockey Advisory Board. She has so much expertise and hands-on experience that we know our conversation was only to provide a deeper story of her leadership origins.Here are the highlights: .
Could you tell us about your educational background?
He attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and received a BA in Speech Communication. He then went on to study at the National Louis University of Chicago, where he earned a master’s degree in secondary education. She graduated from the School in 2008 with a degree in Counseling and in 2016 earned a Certificate in Educational Leadership from the University of Denver.
What was your educational journey like? Did you start in the classroom? What administrative position brought you to your current position? Were you specially trained for this role?
My educational journey began when I left my career at Wells Fargo Financial’s Corporate America to become a substitute teacher at several schools in the Chicagoland Area. I continued my journey while earning my education degree as a college and career readiness advisor for a high school outside on the South Side of Chicago. Before leaving Chicago, I had my first opportunity to teach 7th grade Language and Social Studies and his 9th grade English. After moving to Denver, he continued to travel, worked briefly at a college in Colorado, assisted Denver public schools, and taught high school English to her teens adjudicated at Justice High School in the Valley School District in Boulder. I was. From there, he became his counselor at Denver East High School after earning a degree in another area of education. I was his counselor at East for eight years, then assistant principal and athletic director for five years. I am currently in his second year as principal of Denver East High School.
I have to ask you about the sports and activities you participated in during your college days…?
While in college, he competed in sprints and relays on the track team of Southern Illinois University’s Missouri Valley Conference. Joining the track and field team helped me stay focused and developed the discipline I needed to succeed as a college student-athlete in Division I sports. I am grateful for this experience as it allowed me to pursue my passion for dance even in the ‘off season’. In between competitions, I also worked part-time on the University’s Black Fire Dancers dance team. My teammates were fun, talented, and serious about their studies. So we inspired each other to succeed on the track and in the classroom.
Returning to your current role at Denver East, what do you love most about being a principal?
I am happy to have the opportunity to hear the perspectives of people from so many different fields. If you are a school principal, you need to be conscious of all corners of your school community. By engaging with members of the community, listening to them, supporting them, and potentially solving them, you can also engage in your own learning and growth.
What challenges are you facing in your current position?
You want to be able to know, do, and fix everything. However, no matter how big or small the school, that is not humanly possible as a principal. So delegation is important, but people often want to talk directly to you. So it’s hard to trust your staff to handle things, but a lot of the time people operate with a “skip level” mentality. Sometimes it feels like you don’t value them or their voice. In reality, it’s just the opposite. I want them to talk and work with the assigned people who know the particular aspects of the school best. They are experts in such situations. I get it, but it’s hard to manage, especially since I care deeply about the school community.
who is your mentor?
I have several mentors. Because we believe that having a mentor is very important in a person’s professional and personal journey in life. My parents have been my mentors throughout my own journey as a working parent. They are great working parents and have taught me the importance of devoting myself to work and family. They continue to guide me through finding balance.One of my closest and longest-lasting professional mentors is Barbara Lanea, the first wonderful woman I met in middle school. . She was my English teacher. I have always admired the way she connects with us as a student, as a family, and as a colleague. and remained a dear friend who guided me through every step of my career.
If possible, tell us about any mistakes you may have made early in your career and what you learned from them.
I immersed myself in work to cope with challenges and difficult times. I learned that this was not the way to find balance, and that led to my actions. It became clear to me that my work may be important, but if I am not fit and healthy, I am of no use to others. It’s a work in progress, but I’m practicing more self-care, including prioritizing family and friends.
How do you see yourself influencing the next generation of female leaders?
We will continue to be the ears and voices of women who aspire to become leaders. But I will also be an ear and a voice for those who want to support those interests.The hard work of empowering women leaders requires all of us working together.
Do you have any advice for young women who want to be school leaders?
BE YOU!! So easy to say but hard to do when people set expectations and enforce stereotypes on you. Believe in you even if others don’t. Then allow yourself to continue to learn, grow, give and love.
On behalf of the Denver East High School community, CHSAA membership and office staff, thank you for sharing your story.