A Change of Location, A Change of Career

New Staff Member Uses Technology To Engage Students


Kaleigh Zollman

Engaging Students: The freshmen in Mrs. Rhodes’ English 9 CP were given the opportunity to code a scene from the book “To Kill A Mockingbird.” “It was enjoyable because we got to code,” freshman Parker Sanders said. “I do wish we got a little more time.” Mrs. Santha Walters was brought in to teach the technology.

When Mrs. Santha Walters graduated from college, she wanted to become a spy. She was interviewed for a position with the NSA as a translator since she is fluent in Russian, but after learning she would be sitting in an office eight hours a day, she turned it down and applied to get her master’s degree in Secondary English Education. Now, it is incredibly hard to picture her in any job other than as an educator. Her animated expressions and unmistakable Southern accent make her passion for education hard to miss.
“I used to get so excited when I taught about commas; I would shake,” Mrs. Walters said. “I thought commas were so cool and everyone would love it. We would have so much fun. After that, I got excited about the gamification of the curriculum and that was fun too. But then I was looking for something else, another way to reinvent my classroom, to make it more fun and engaging for students. That’s when I thought about technology. It was the first thing after commas to make me shake with excitement because I wanted to do it so bad.”
For eight years, Mrs. Walters put her Russian language and math skills to use when she taught at Shelton Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. When she decided it was time for another change, Mrs. Walters packed her bags and began working in a public secondary school in Memphis, Tennessee. Her experiences while working in two very different areas of the country have opened her eyes.
“I started teaching in a school that had 90 percent free and reduced lunch,” Mrs. Walters said. “This was a very different socioeconomic group from what you encounter in Nebraska. It was a much more difficult environment. Here, there is a lot more to work with and everyone is a delight.”
From her first job in education, she spent the next ten years building her career working in private and public schools as everything from a classroom teacher to a department chair. In 2014, Mrs. Walters said goodbye to the South after her husband was offered a job here. While becoming acclimated with a new area of the country, Mrs. Walters was also adjusting to a new job; the building technical coordinator for Bellevue Public Schools.
“Using technology to teach helps us reach all of the kids,” Mrs. Walters said. “It gives us a way to see what isn’t making sense to a kid and allows us to help them improve. The realizations they have while using technology in a classroom setting is so cool. I get that school can sometimes be boring, I really do. If I can bring in something that makes it more exciting and gets students to work and try to learn something new, I’ve done my job. The most enjoyable part about my job is working with students and teachers. I love that aha! moment when both teachers and students understand the technology.”

Moving from an area that is far away like the South, Mrs. Walters enjoys the midwest for the genuinely nice people, the support they have given her, and the cute clothes she gets to wear in the winter. When she is not at school, Mrs. Walters spends her time being a mom to her three sons, creating art, and white-water rafting. While her family would describe her as intense and slightly crazy, Mrs. Walters classifies herself as an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body. When she is in the hallways, she appears extremely approachable and outgoing, however, when she returns to her office, she prefers to drown out the outside world by playing classical music, using essential oils and having moderate lighting. With so much going on in her life, Mrs. Walters uses a unique method to plan it all out.
“My husband moved to Nebraska six months before the rest of my family did,” Mrs. Walters said. “I didn’t know how I was going to manage three sons and a full-time job, I didn’t know that I could do it. When I was looking for answers, I found bullet journaling. I knew that it could help because it would allow me to keep everything in one place. That was six years ago. When I first started, I would go all out. Now, I keep it more relaxed. It gave me a way to keep everyone organized when I was alone in Virginia. It just stuck.”
From wanting to be a spy to helping high school students and teachers adapt to the ever-changing technological world, Mrs. Walters’ passion for what she does is clear. Since she has spent 24 years working in fields mostly dominated by men, Mrs. Walters has overcome challenges and broken down barriers to be right where she belongs.
“I love math, science and Russian. There are no women in those. You go to white-water rafting and kayaking and there’s no women in those. On the other hand, I’ve always loved frills and pink. It’s my signature color. I’ve always felt caught between being a girly girl and wanting to do things usually meant for men. Technology is the place that they accept me as both. I can be anything I want to be in technology.”