Unique Course Offerings
Crowd-sourcing antibiotic discovery. Collaborating with published authors.
Leading discussions on social justice and identity. Exploring veterinary science.
Walker’s offers unique courses that combine direct action, experimentation and improvisation with the the opportunity to design real-world solutions and gain hands-on experience. In addition to reading more about our unique courses below, be sure to visit our department pages for a full array of course offerings.
- Honors Biochemistry
- Visiting Writer Seminar
- Inequality in the United States
- Equine Science
- Tropical Ecology
Walker's is among only five high schools in the United States invited to participate in the Tiny Earth Network (TEN), an innovative program formulated at Yale University that encourages students to pursue careers in science through hands-on experience and real-world laboratory and field research. Students from Walker's join other students from around the world to crowd-source antibiotic discovery. Through a series of student-driven experiments, our girls collect soil samples, isolate diverse bacteria, test their bacteria against clinically relevant microorganisms, and characterize those showing antibiotic activity with the hope of developing new antibiotics.
"This course allows our students to understand the importance of scientific research and get an early jump-start on learning modern research skills and laboratory techniques that they will use in college and beyond. In this course, the classroom is flipped so that the laboratory research is center stage while other activities will be used to support the research."
- Dr. Suzanne Piela, Science Department Chair
What does it mean to be a writer? How does an author find her style? The Visiting Writer Seminar is a semester-long course in which students have the special opportunity to immerse themselves in a study of one writer’s works. Throughout the semester, students read a critical mass of texts by that writer before the course culminates with a visit by that person to the school. During this visit, the writer will teach master classes, conduct writing workshops, and participate in class discussion. The writer will also deliver a schoolwide assembly and a public reading to our community.
The magic of this course is created in the collaborative and symbiotic exchange between the writer and the student. Learning and inspiration move from the writer to the student but also, we hope, from the student back to the writer.
Inequality in the United States introduces students to systems of social inequality in the United States. Students investigate the structural, interpersonal and social dimensions of oppression. Course materials explore the ways that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, trans oppression and religious oppression have developed over time as well as the ways they impact each of us every day. Students develop the language, tools and skills to create positive social change.
One of the largest student organizations at Walker's, Justice League, raises awareness of issues of inequality in our society and the world. On MLK Day, League members lead workshops on topics such as systemic racism in the criminal justice system and reversing the stigma against "disabled" people. It has become a meaningful forum for confronting the truths of society openly and constructively, and it has definitely been embraced by girls here at Walker's.
Introduced to Walker's science curriculum in 2008, Equine Science, taught by licensed veterinarian Dr. Suzanne Piela, is a yearlong science elective. The intense equine biology class encompasses the anatomy and physiology of all the systems of the horse, nutrition, toxicology, parasitology, health management, neonatology, epidemiology, and sports medicine. While the curriculum is of special interest to Walker's riders, it is also beneficial to students interested in veterinary science, or careers in medicine and biology.
The course features guest speakers, current events, journal articles, field trips, case studies, and weekly labs. Walker's barn lends itself as a natural classroom, and allows students to gain hands-on experience and apply what they have learned in class to real life experiences.
Students gain a strong foundation in most of the systems in the equine body, and use this knowledge to work up different cases during the second semester. Students also learn how to ask the right questions to obtain a medical history, interpret physical exam and diagnostic test findings, and recognize signs of injury and disease in their own horses.
Students in the Tropical Ecology class at Walker's learn about the unique and fragile ecosystems of the tropics, paying close attention to the incredible biodiversity, current events, and conservation efforts. As a way to maximize their understanding of tropical ecosystems, students are immersed in both the complex environment and the culture of Panama in ways that are not possible in a classroom. Aligning with components of Walker’s Capabilities Approach including international experience and sustenance and sustainability, students gain an unforgettable experience by working to truly become global citizens.