In the early morning of Saturday, February 18, 2017, a beautiful, courageous and brilliant woman ended her struggle to over-achieve against a brutal, unforgiving disease… pancreatic cancer.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1948, Deborah Walker retained her appreciation for the beauty of the world throughout her life. Family came first and always, followed by dedication to career and ensuring educational opportunities for students. Equity was a key value in her life, one that fueled her passion for making a difference for education and ultimately the larger community.
Deborah was educated in California where she spent a good part of her life, earning a bachelor's degree from UC Davis, a master's degree from San Jose State University, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and multicultural education from the University of the Pacific. She was extremely fortunate to have talented and caring colleagues both in California, at Cal State Hayward and in the various school districts in which she served, and in Kentucky, her adopted home where she worked for JCPS directing the Gheens Academy, and at CTL-the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning -as president and CEO.
Deborah would like to be remembered for her vitality, humor, outgoing personality and the unconditional love she had for her children, Nathaniel and Savannah, and her husband Dean. She loved reading, movies, politics, theater and staying fit. She especially enjoyed walks during the change of seasons and was very mindful of the innate beauty of spring, summer and fall. Winter, however, was a different story! Best family vacation: a road trip of 7200 miles over almost 4 weeks from Kentucky to California with her family that included great sightseeing, reconnecting with family and friends, and enjoying simple pleasures. Proudest moments: watching Nate and Savannah play sports and participate in school activities; high school graduations; and growing into very cool adults. Best life event: wedding in 1987.
While teaching at California State University- Hayward, Deborah received an Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award for developing a master's degree program focused on action research and school leadership. She worked as professional development consultant for many California school districts, as well as for the California and Kentucky Departments of Education. The subject of Deborah's doctoral dissertation was the role of the superintendent in promoting principal instructional leadership, and she served as the designer and facilitator for the Danforth Foundation's Forum for the American Superintendent. Deborah and her colleague and friend, Linda Hargan, were guests of the Chinese government as they looked for ways to develop innovation and creativity in their schools.
Deborah published numerous articles on educational leadership and change. She co-authored The Constructivist Leader (First and Second Editions), published by (Columbia University) Teachers College Press, which received the National Development Council's Outstanding Book of the Year Award. The books have been widely used in principal development programs in the United States and abroad. On behalf of CTL, she wrote the book entitled Teaching for Results: Strategies for Improving Student Performance, published by Phi Delta Kappa.
Deborah was an avid Cards fan and was thrilled that her daughter Savannah chose to attend U of L. She was a Kentucky Colonel and admired the beauty and variety of her adopted city, Louisville. She leaves her love and hope for the future to her husband Dean and children Nate and Savannah; her sisters Lori and Julie; her many nieces and nephews, the entire extended Walker family; Dorothy Weinberg; David and David; and to so many wonderful friends here in Kentucky and in California, including her childhood and still best friend Beth Gaffney.
Deborah Tamara Walker was a special woman who will be missed greatly. Visitation with the family will be held Thursday, February 23rd from 4-6 p.m. at 3207 Trail Ridge Road, 40241. In that Deborah was an educator for 47 years, her memorial service will be held on Thursday the 23rd at Norton Elementary School, 8101 Brownsboro Road (parking access from Barbour Lane) at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to El Nopal on Goose Creek Road following the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Dr. Deborah T. Walker Memorial Scholarship Fund which will assist teachers in gaining access to advanced educational opportunities. (Go Fund Me).
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Published by Courier-Journal from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23, 2017.