E. Rodney Walker

Brooklyn Park Elementary School
Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Baltimore, Maryland

In his eight-year tenure as principal of Brooklyn Park Elementary School, Rodney Walker has focused his management and instructional leadership on reducing the opportunity gap for the school’s high-poverty, majority Black and Brown student body. When he first took a leadership position, most Brooklyn Park teachers were white and, although highly skilled and passionate educators, did not reflect the community they served. Within one year, Walker improved the diversity of instructional staff by 20 percent, providing students a chance to build positive school relationships with people of similar life experience. This same goal drives Boys of Distinction, a mentorship program Walker launched to serve African American boys in grades 2-5. Participants have demonstrated academic gains and reduced behavioral referrals, but Walker maintains that the boys’ own sense of connectedness to the school community is the real measure of the program’s success. Walker aims for all his students to experience this level of connection. Following a drastic increase in the school’s Latinx population, Walker made staffing changes to open meaningful communication channels for Spanish-speaking families. Discussions of equity now permeate Brooklyn Park’s professional culture, as teachers collaboratively assess student data and hone instructional strategy across demographic groupings, yielding significant gains in literacy and math. Walker holds a B.A. in Business Management from Johnson and Wales University and M.A. degrees from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Towson University. He is currently pursuing an Ed.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park.