The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees embraced a new face at their meeting Tuesday night, voting to accept a provisional appointment of longtime educator and Turlock resident Mark Walker as the Board’s Area 6 Trustee.
The provisional appointment came following Trustee Jennifer Carter’s departure in early May, when she resigned due to a job change, and Walker will take her seat on the Board for the remainder of the term, which expires November 2018.
Walker comes from a family that has lived in Turlock since 1880, and he has called the city home since 1954. With experience as an elementary school teacher, vice principal, principal and assistant superintendent for a combined 33 years, Walker has attended over 300 school board meetings over the course of his career. Knowing his own experience, Walker saw the opportunity to serve on the school board, rather than in the audience, as one that he couldn’t pass up.
“I’ve been in education my whole career, and am very close to education,” said Walker. “I wanted to serve to make the community’s views available to District administration. When I was working, if I could get input that was constructive and gave me guidance, I always appreciated that.”
In addition to his time working in education, Walker is also certified by the labor department as a California Studio Teacher. He currently works intermittently providing for the education, safety and welfare of minors working in the entertainment industry.
During his newfound time on the Board, Walker hopes to not only make administration aware of the needs of students and parents within the district, he said, but also make sure that each individual school site is a place where parents feel their voices are heard.
“I feel that sometimes, individual schools can become isolated from the community,” said Walker. “It’s important for them to be aware of what the community is thinking, be open to feedback and welcome anyone who comes to them for more information.”
Walker’s father was elected to the Turlock Elementary School board in 1960, but passed away at age 43 before completing his term. In some ways, Walker feels as if he is continuing his father’s legacy by serving as a Trustee.
“Symbolically, I feel like I’m completing his term,” said Walker.
As of now, Walker is undecided as to whether or not he will seek election to the school board in 2018. He plans to complete his current term, he said, and make a decision based on his contributions to the District.
“Right now, I just wanted to make sure we have a full, seven-member board,” he said. “I don’t have any plans at this time to run or not to run. I need to see whether or not I feel like I’m making a positive impact on the school board.”
For now, Walker hopes to continue the District’s positive influence on Turlock’s students.
“I’m not interested in being a school administrator,” said Walker. “I hope to bring not an administrator focus, but a general policy focus with a reflection of community values so that administration has a clear picture of what we want as community members.”