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History and Social Science

Learn to be active, informed global citizens.

The History and Social Science Department faculty seek to teach our students to be active, informed global citizens who can distinguish between observation, opinion and argument, and who can reject weak arguments and bandwagon thinking. 

Throughout their core courses and electives in the social sciences, students will examine the actions, forces, and systems that transform society — past and present. These investigations push them to think deeply about the human condition and recognize complexity. We are committed to arming students with basic competencies in critical reading, historical reasoning, writing, speaking, listening, and effective research skills.

Learning activities and assessments encompass a variety of formats ranging from Harkness-style discussions or debates to traditional tests or document-based questions, to videos or other presentations. All students in the junior year U.S. history course will write a full thesis paper. The graduation requirement for History is 3.5 credits. Core courses include Global Connections, Foundations of the Modern World, and United States History. Electives offered are subject to enrollment and may be offered in alternating years. Enrollment in all honors and advanced courses is subject to departmental approval. 

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Capabilities is in Walker’s DNA

By Ned Edwards, Director of Walker’s Capabilities Approach Program “The moment came when I wanted more freedom of expression and action, and the opportunity to create something of my own…I…

Added to: Academics, History

History and Social Science Faculty

Kathleen Minahan

History Faculty & Department Chair

Kathleen Minahan

B.A., Indiana University
M.A., Yale University

Kathleen Minahan joined Walker’s in 2019 after teaching history at Cheshire Academy for six years. During her time at Cheshire, she designed a new school-wide advising program and served as advising program coordinator. Previously, she taught English at the Storm King School in New York and the Academy of New York in Warsaw, Poland. Kathleen earned a B.A. in History and Slavic Languages and Literatures with a minor in Russian and East European Studies from Indiana University and an M.A. from Yale University in European and Russian Studies. She is currently working on an Ed.M. in Private School Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition to her teaching duties, Kathleen also chairs Walker’s history department.

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Carol Clark-Flanagan

Carol Clark-Flanagan P'93, '97

History/English Faculty

Carol Clark-Flanagan P'93, '97

 860-408-4301

B.A., Cornell University

Growing up within sight and sound of the ocean on the South Shore of Massachusetts, Carol spent many hours racing sailboats where she learned to read and respond to wind shifts and current – capabilities she has relied on as equivalent experience teaching and advising students. She has taught and designed many courses in her 30+ years at Walker’s. Most of her time has been spent in the History Department, where she has taught every grade except seventh. Curriculum design and collaboration in the classroom stand out as the most rewarding parts of Carol’s job. She was part of a team of teachers from across four disciplines who envisioned and taught the innovative Environmental Studies course. She led the team that designed 9th Grade Seminar, the flagship of the seminar program that grew to encompass grades 9-12, and has recently been retooled for the Capabilities Approach curriculum. She is helping to break new ground in this endeavor with the design of the newest of these courses, Sustenance and Sustainability. After teaching 10th grade English for a decade, Carol is now taking on senior electives in that department. Increasingly, she believes in the power of student choice within as well as among courses. Carol has been a member of many task forces and is a recipient of the Natalie Galbraith Chair in the Humanities. She has served in a variety of administrative roles that include Chair of the History Department and Dean of Faculty. She was also a class advisor for twelve years.

Carol and her husband live off-campus. Two of their four children are Walker’s alumnae: Nan ’93 and Kate ’97. Carol is also active in town politics where she is a member of the SPIRIT Council formed to promote diversity and inclusion in Simsbury.

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Elisa Del Valle

Assistant Head of School for Student Life/Director of Social Justice and Inclusion

Elisa Del Valle

 860-408-4287

B.A., Smith College
M.A., University of Massachusetts

Elisa Del Valle, a native of Brooklyn, NY, has lived in Connecticut for over a decade. Prior to joining Walker’s in fall 2016, she worked as the director of student activities and leadership development/new student orientation at Wesleyan University. While at Wesleyan, Elisa served on the Presidential Task Force for Equity and Inclusion and was an active voice on issues of Equity and Inclusion amongst her student affairs professionals. Elisa’s deep-rooted interest in women’s education is what brings her to Walker’s. Elisa attended an all-girls high school in New York City before attending Smith College in Northampton, MA where she majored in Government and minored in Spanish. While working at Mount Holyoke College, Elisa attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she graduated with a Master’s in Social Justice Education. Elisa is an active Commissioner of the CAIS Commission on Diversity in Independent Schools, an educators network focused on diversity, as well as training and resources for diversity practitioners at CAIS member schools.

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Dr. Ned Edwards P’07, ’10

Director of Capabilities Approach Program

Dr. Ned Edwards P’07, ’10

 860-408-4213

B.A., The College of Wooster
M.Div, Yale University
D.Min, Hartford Seminary

Dr. Ned Edwards P’07, ’10 earned his B.A. from the College of Wooster in psychology and religion, an M.Div. from Yale University with a focus on philosophical theology, and a D.Min. from Hartford Seminary in sociology and the history of American Protestantism. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Ned has served four churches as senior minister, and has considerable experience in various capacities in secondary independent education including two other girls’ schools as chaplain, director of social services, teacher, dean of faculty, and assistant head. He has taught Hebrew scriptures, Christian scriptures, world religions, ethics, philosophy, advanced placement psychology, and school of rock: the history of American politics and rock and roll from 1950-2000. His commitment to girls’ schools and girls’ education was born out of his daughters’ experience at Walker’s, and is seen not only in his career choices but in his engagement with the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools and his co-authored, peer-reviewed article on adolescent girls’ brain development and spirituality which speaks to the unique ways adolescent girls process information, extrapolating to subjects far beyond spirituality. Ned lives in Simsbury with his wife, Gwen, and enjoys woodworking, learning luthier skills, building guitars, and boating.

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John Monagan

John Monagan

History Faculty

John Monagan

 860-408-4221

B.A., Johns Hopkins University
M.S., Drexel University

John Monagan grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he attended Chase Collegiate School from 6th-12th grade. From Waterbury, John headed south to attend Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in history. After four enjoyable years in Baltimore, John’s years in private school led him to The Ethel Walker School, where he taught history and English. John spent his first four years at Walker’s teaching 6th-9th grade history, and 6th-7th grade English. He has also spent time running student activities. John earned his Master of Science degree from Drexel University in Sports Management while working at Walker’s. He served as Walker’s athletic director for nine years and he also teaches Advanced Human Geography. John also is the head coach of the varsity basketball and softball teams.

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Brendan O'Dwyer

History Faculty

Brendan O'Dwyer

 860-408-4300

B.A., SUNY Purchase
M.A., Wesleyan University

Brendan earned his B.A. from SUNY Purchase and his M.A. from Wesleyan University. After receiving his master’s degree, Brendan joined the Walker’s community as a full time faculty member in 2015. In addition to teaching in the History Department at Walker’s, Brendan has coached soccer, basketball, skiing and tennis. He lives with his wife and three children in Litchfield.

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