Students get ready to become Walker Wolves at new SSL school
Aug 05, 2020 03:26PM
By Bill Hardesty
Workers finish up on the new Olene Walker Elementary School in SSL. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
On Aug. 24, an event will occur in South Salt Lake City that was last seen decades ago. A new elementary school, Olene Walker Elementary School, will open for about 400 students.
Walker Elementary (3751 S. 900 West) is in the Riverfront area of South Salt Lake.
Valerie Bergera was appointed principal of the new school after serving two years as the principal of Roosevelt Elementary.
She is entering her 15th year as an elementary principal in the Jordan School District, in the Canyons School District, at a charter school, and in the Salt Lake School District.
Her experience includes gifted magnet programs, dual immersion programs, Title 1 and turnaround schools.
Speaking about why she accepted the appointment, Bergera said, “I knew when I accepted the position that I would move with the students to Walker and continue to lead the school forward. I wanted the opportunity to continue to apply the knowledge and training I had received in another school to help a diverse population of students be successful. I have developed a passion for working with students in high needs schools. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work in schools with diverse student populations. I have learned so much from the students and their families as well as the staff who are dedicated to making a difference in their students’ lives.”
Bergera is student focused.
“I believe in every child, and I believe in doing everything possible to help children be successful. Schools need to be a place where children can be successful and that looks different for every child,” Bergera said.
Bergera also spoke about her vision of Walker Elementary.
“I see Olene Walker as a strong community school. In March, Roosevelt Elementary was recognized by the Granite School District Board for having the third highest median growth percentile out of 62 elementary schools in the District based on last year's RISE test scores. We also had significant growth and improvement on our state report card specifically with students who had previously scored in the lowest 25%. I would anticipate continuing this trend of academic progress and growth for every student. Walker Elementary has high expectations for staff and students. We hope to have a strong culture of collaboration and a goal to strive to do our best.”
For years, many students in this area were bused to Roosevelt Elementary. This made it hard for parents to get involved in school. Now, they can enjoy the richness of a community school.
“Now they have the opportunity to attend a true neighborhood school. The proximity of the school will allow more families access and opportunities to get involved. We feel like the community center on site can be a place where we work with our families in a partnership to better support our students,” Bergera said.
The staff has already started to make socially distanced home visits. They are also partnering with district community center employees in helping parents access resources.
“We want families to feel safe and comfortable to come back to school and feel connected to the staff. We won't be able to do the back-to-school events we had previously planned to do, but we know how important it is to make these connections before school starts,” Bergera said.
While the core of students are coming from Roosevelt Elementary, students from Granger Elementary and Rolling Meadows Elementary are also coming.
Granite School’s website offers parents/caregivers a chance to type in their address and see your student’s assigned school. Or you can view the maps at www.graniteschools.org/planning/boundary-maps/
Roughly, the boundaries for the new school are beginning at 1300 West and Meadow Brook Expressway traveling north to 2900 South. The line travels east along 2900 South and then Mill Creek Road. At Main Street, it moves south to 3300 South where it turns east to State Street. Again, it turns south. At Baird Avenue, it turns west and winds itself to I-15. It travels south to the Murray City border and turns west. It winds itself along the border to Jordan River. It travels north to the north side of the Meadow Brook Expressway, then west to 1300 West.