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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

Randall Sho Northrop

History Department Chair, History Faculty

Randall Sho Northrop

 860-408-4304

B.A., Saint Michael’s College
M.A., Oxford University

Randall joins Walker’s from Beaver Country Day School in Brookline, MA, where he taught Global History and Social Sciences. At Beaver, Randall also served as the grade dean for 9th and 10th grades, facilitated students of color and affinity groups, and coached the BVR Model UN team. Raised in Okinawa, Japan, he is passionate that students see themselves as a part of an interconnected local and global community, full of rich and complex narratives.

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Carol Clark-Flanagan

Carol Clark-Flanagan P'93, '97

History Faculty, 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 Headshot

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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Patrick Durning

Dr. Patrick Durning

History Faculty

Dr. Patrick Durning

 860-408-4315

B.A., Duke University
M.A., Brown University
Ph.D., Brown University

Patrick joins Walker’s history faculty from The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas where he taught World History, Philosophy, and Psychology, among others. At Walker’s, Patrick will teach Advanced Economics, American Identity, and Supreme Court Landmarks. He has an extensive teaching career including teaching in China and Korea as well as at other independent schools including St. George’s and Hotchkiss School. Patrick has also taught at the college level including at Tufts University, Brown University, and Suffolk University, among others. Patrick holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Brown University and a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University. He is a member of the Cluett dorm faculty, a coach for Middle School soccer, and an assistant coach for varsity basketball.

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Dr. Ned Edwards P’07, ’10

Dean of Faculty, 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

Interim Athletic Director, History Faculty

John Monagan

 860-408-4290

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 previously served as Walker’s Athletic Director for nine years and continues to teach in the history department. John is the head coach of the varsity basketball and softball teams and lives on campus with his wife and daughter.

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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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Kim Thacker P'24, '27

Kimberly Thacker P'24, '27

English Faculty

Kimberly Thacker P'24, '27

 208-874-3615

Kim Harris Thacker teaches 6th and 7th grade English at The Ethel Walker School and is the school’s archivist. She is a well-published magazine writer and essayist with a keen interest in history and community, and in connecting the past and the present through the medium of story. Born and raised in Wyoming, Kim has retained a love of the outdoors, which she shares with her husband, Walker’s Upper School English teacher Dr. David Thacker, and their two daughters, Molly and Liesel, who attend Walker’s as students.

Dr. Meera Viswanathan

Head of School

Dr. Meera Viswanathan

 860-408-4210

B.A., Stanford University
M.A., Stanford University
Ph.D., Stanford University

Meera joined Walker’s from Brown University, where she was an associate professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies. A lifelong educator and scholar, Meera holds her undergraduate degree, her M.A. and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Meera was born in Madras, India and emigrated at age five to Los Angeles.

At Brown, she earned the Barrett Hazeltine Award for Outstanding Teaching, and the John Rowe Workman Medal in the Humanities. She delivered Brown University’s Convocation Address, has received several National Endowment for the Humanities grants and awards, and has been both a visiting scholar and professor abroad. Meera has served as a reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, on the review board of the journal, College Literature, and on the board of the Community Preparatory School in Providence. She is a Trustee of the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. She has frequently led seminars locally and nationally about developing curriculum and resources on Asian literature. Meera has studied and speaks a number of languages including Japanese, French, German, Latin, Classical Greek, Old English and Old Norse.

Meera and her husband, Dr. Eric Widmer, resided at Deerfield Academy during his 12-year tenure as Headmaster. While there, she taught English for a year while on sabbatical from Brown. At the behest of King Abdullah II of Jordan, Meera and Eric co-founded King’s Academy in Madaba, Jordan, the Middle East’s first co-educational preparatory boarding school with financial aid. There, she taught and served as the curriculum’s principal architect and dean of faculty. King Abdullah II personally awarded Meera the King Hussein Medal, Jordan’s highest honor, for her endeavors.

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