Over six decades, Eleanor Walker has touched many children’s lives in Princeton school district

She has held many roles in education, including principal, teacher and librarian

Eleanor Walker, poses for a photo outside her preschool classroom on Friday, April 15, 2022 at Douglas School in Princeton.

Schools are in a constant state of change. Students enter as young children and are sent to learn from a different teacher each year with different classmates coming and going. Students learn to find comfort in change as they eventually attend the different schools along their paths.

While change is consistent, for almost all students that have attended Princeton Elementary Schools in the past 60 years, at least one thing has remained the same: Eleanor Walker.

Walker has taught in the Princeton Elementary School District for nearly 64 years, and while serving in many roles and positions, she has touched countless children’s lives along the way.

“There’s been a lot of changes,” Walker said. “When I began, our class sizes were 30 or more and they were finishing building the schools at that time. Parents were also so involved in the schools.”

Eleanor Walker, reads an Easter book to her preschool  class on Friday, April 15, 2022 at Douglas School in Princeton.

Walker began at Lincoln School in 1958 as a second-grade teacher out of Illinois State University. After spending time solely in the classroom, Walker soon was approached with another opportunity in education.

“I taught in the classroom until they needed a teaching principal,” Walker said. “They wanted me to be a teaching principal. I kind of hesitated, but I took that job and then about four or five years later they made us a full principal.”

Walker, who completed her master’s program at ISU, assumed the role of a part-time administrator and part-time teacher.

Walker said half of her day would consist of running a classroom with various lessons and projects as the other half of the day would be spent on her administrative duties. She would later take over as a full-time principal.

“It was different because I had older children to manage and teachers to help,” Walker said. “I’ve always said that I’ve worked with a wonderful staff. Every place that I’ve been, has been good to me. Our superintendents and leaders have always been really good here as well.”

Eleanor Walker, describes her experience teaching preschool on Friday, April 15, 2022 at Douglas School in Princeton.

Walker spent a total of 36 years working at Lincoln School before moving to Jefferson School, where she would serve as principal for the next two decades.

In 2014, Walker decided to retire from Jefferson School.

Her time away from education wouldn’t last long as her passion for children’s literature and working with children brought her to Douglas Elementary as an aide and eventual librarian.

For the past eight years, Walker has continued to pursue her passion of working with kids and educating those who enter her classroom. She continues to work full time in the school library, while showing up at 7 a.m. each day.

“You don’t have the pressures that you have as a principal because you are responsible for so many different things,” Walker said. “It was time to step away.”

While she always has been comfortable in her classroom, Walker still makes sure she is there to help when needed.

“I help with the breakfasts and taking the children out to the buses as well,” Walker said. “I help in the classrooms as well when they need me. I just love to work with children.”

Walker has worked with and taught countless individuals who have gone through Princeton Elementary Schools, and the effect she has had on those in her life was put on display at the end of March.

Former students, fellow faculty members, administrators and friends came together to put on a special 86th birthday celebration for her.

“I was really speechless because it was really a surprise,” Walker said. “To hear from students that I have taught in my very first year and to hear the things that they thought was great to hear.”

For 63 of her 86 years alive, Eleanor Walker was an educator and administrator. Walker began her career as a second grade teacher at Lincoln School in 1958.

Through her many positions, schools and experiences, Walker’s passion for working with the young kids in the community and her own education is something that has remained consistent.

“I went back to summer school most summers because there would almost always be a problem in my room,” Walker said. “I would think, ‘How can I solve that?’ and I would take a course and see if I can do it better next year.”

Serving as an administrator for many years was a rewarding experience she enjoyed, but she also has continued to enjoy her current position in the library.

“Working with the children and seeing them grow and change, I think has been wonderful to see that,” Walker said.

After spending more than 60 years in the field, Walker has gone through a lot of change, but through everything else that can get in the way, she has always focused on helping the students in her classroom to the best of her ability.

“We’ve changed so many things, some are good and some need some work, but that’s education, I guess,” Walker said. “That’s what I’ve enjoyed. It’s the challenge to me and the ability to be able to help children.”