Obama’s Own Doc May Be Leaving


Ian Thomas

For the past 23 years, the Pittsburgh Public Schools have been blessed with the presence of Dr. Wayne Walters. A truly amazing and unique individual, Dr. Walters has been working diligently for the public school system in countless vocations, from teacher to his current position as Principal of Obama Academy and Assistant Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public 6-12 schools. This past year, Walters was promoted to the position of Assistant Director of the 6-12 schools. The promotion meant a great many responsibilities to his already long list, but this has not been a problem. It was published in the newspaper during the summer that Dr. Walters would be moving on next year from his position as Principal to fully integrate into the occupation of Assistant Director. This has not yet been clarified though. He may stay at Obama, or move on. I walked into Dr. Walters’ office on the sixth of October for an interview with him, hoping to catch a glimpse of his numerous duties as Principal of Obama and Assistant Director of the schools. We had an inspiring conversation, one that hints of the dedication that Dr. Walters has to the Public Schools.

When did your career in the Pittsburgh Public Schools begin? In what position were you originally?

Dr. Walters: I began my work in the Public Schools in 1991. During that year I worked as a music teacher for Martin Luther King Elementary School.

When you began in the Public Schools, did you ever imagine that you would be in the position that you are in today?

DW: Not at all. I never thought that I would be in this position, working both as a Principal and Assistant Director of the 6-12 Public Schools. I have had the necessary credentials for the position for some time now, around 10 years, but I had never thought that I would be needing them.

Is your position a common one?

DW: Not really. In fact, there are only two of us that work together in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. I am one of them, and the other is Ms. Friez, the Principal of Taylor Allderdice High school.

Can you give us a brief overview of your duties, both as principal of Obama Academy, and Assistant Director of the Pittsburgh Public 6-12 schools?

DW: As Assistant Director of the 6-12 schools, my job is to visit the different middle and high schools in the Pittsburgh Public School District, and assist the principals in any way that I can. This mainly consists of helping them grow in areas of leadership. I also supervise principals weekly, to see what exactly I can help them with. I visit 5 different schools, with 5 different principals that all may need to my help to successfully complete the tasks set before them. The supervising may take the form of trainings, conference calls, attending community events, or just visiting the school itself and walking around. As for my job as a principal, it mostly consists of making sure we uphold our standards as an IB school. I also try my best to be present at things that the students take part in, such as fundraisers and sporting events.

If you do move on from your position as Principal of Obama Academy, what are the things you will miss most?

DW: The thing I will miss most from the job as a principal, if I do move on, will definitely be the direct interaction with the students. I love being able to watch the impact both I and this school have on the student’s lives.

What are some things you look forward to next year, if you do move on to fully integrate into the position of Assistant Director of the 6-12 Pittsburgh Public schools?

DW: I think the thing I look most forward to is seeing the impact that both Ms. Friez and I have on these five schools that we are working with. Another thing I am excited to be working on is the online schooling program, and seeing where I may be of help in that environment. I look forward to seeing growth in the system. Especially seeing as we are working with the lowest achieving school in the district.

If it turns out that you do move on, what are some words of wisdom you have for your successor?

DW: Be a quick study. Make sure you are truly invested in the students, and it will show. Also, be sure to know the IB program, and all that it encompasses. Be a student advocate, and get involved. It’s a busy place, check yourself to make sure you are really ready for it.

What is your dream for Obama Academy? What do you hope to see it become in these coming years?

DW: I hope that Obama Academy becomes a premier center of learning for the IB program. Not only that, but a premier center of learning throughout both the public and private schools. I hope that people will be begging to come to this school. Right now, it is mostly families that have some international background that see the value of the IB program. I hope that everyone grows to realize this amazing school is in their city…for free. I hope, for them, that they take advantage of this. It is an amazing place that produces students with a well-developed global insight, and a true understanding of the spirit of competition, because out there, everything is a competition.

Everyone will miss Dr. Walters if it does turn out that he is called to leave Obama. Let’s make sure he has an awesome last year!