Jacobsville Elementary is the only school that Laura Walton knows. She has spent the last 16 years being involved at the elementary school in a variety of ways: substitute, teacher’s assistant, parent, PTA person and special education teacher.
For the 2019-2020 school year, Walton will take on a new role at Chesapeake High School as the IEP facilitator. As the IEP facilitator, Walton will help families, students and teachers through the case work that is involved when a student is in special education.
“The last year or two, I’ve been getting this nudge to narrow my focus a little bit on a specific part of the special ed process,” Walton said, “just being able to focus and learn even more about that part of it and see where that leads.”
The position isn’t available at most elementary schools, but Walton is happy to be staying in the same cluster. Walton lives her life under the belief that if “you are led or prompted or the spirit moves you to do something, you need to do it or else those promptings are going to stop.” Walton saw the opportunity last-minute and applied.
“I just applied for it and everything fell into place,” Walton said. “[Principal April] Umile was so supportive and helpful. It felt like it was meant to be at the right time.”
When she arrived at Jacobsville, Umile said Walton was “revered” and specifically named by her colleagues as someone to know.
“Every single one of them, without fail, mentioned Laura Walton and her contributions to the school, and that she was a woman I had to know,” Umile said. “She was a legacy to me.”
In her time at Jacobsville, Walton was in a position where she got to get to work with everyone in the building.
“I made some really special and important friendships, and I’ve learned so much from so many people: students, administrators, teachers, other parents,” Walton said. “I feel like every day I’ve learned something from somebody here.”
Through this, she was able to coordinate several special events. Walton established the grad walk, which encourages members of the graduating class from Chesapeake High School to return to their elementary schools and parade through the hallways in their caps and gowns. She organized assemblies to honor staff members, and even coordinated flash mobs to thank school staff for their work.
“Without fail, she is easily one of the most kind, sweet, thoughtful and caring educators that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” Umile said. “It’s bittersweet to see her leave, but I’m incredibly excited for her special education leadership opportunity as the IEP facilitator at Chesapeake High School.”