Graduating valedictorian of her class at Payson High School in 1971, Linda Ann Walter has had an extensive career in science education lasting more than 35 years. Her interest in science came from her early childhood years of being raised on a farm by her single father. Something of a tomboy, she helped her father with various aspects of the farm work, including delivering claves, feeding cows and other labor-intensive tasks. It felt like no surprise at all when she realized that her interests were in the sciences.
A single mother of seven with one on the way when she began her studies, Ms. Walter was already intimately familiar with how all children learn differently, having seen how some of her children excelled in school with ease while others struggled to learn. She knew from the start that she wanted to teach and completed an aptitude test that gave her one full year of credit at her chosen school, Weber State University. Starting her studies in earnest in 1983, Ms. Walter completed roughly two years’ worth of coursework for her education program in a single term.
Ms. Walter finished the program 18 months later, including the required student teaching, which she completed at Payson High School, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, physics and math education in 1985. This happened to be perfect timing because the chemistry teacher at Payson High School was retiring, and she was able to come in and replace him. She has served as a science teacher with Payson High School and the Nebo School District ever since. Currently, Ms. Walter teaches four classes a day in chemistry, physics and astronomy.
Continuing to learn throughout her career, Ms. Walter went on to pursue graduate studies at Brigham Young University, where she achieved a Master of Arts in mathematics. Furthermore, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with QuarkNet, where she studied neutrinos and quarks in the Earth’s atmosphere and had the opportunity to visit Switzerland and participate in a cutting-edge research experiment. In order to remain up to date with new developments in her field, Ms. Walter maintains affiliation with such professional organizations as the National Teachers Association.
With a great love of teaching, Ms. Walter attributes much of her success to her devotion to her students, colleagues and family. She strongly believes that everyone can learn and that it is simply a matter of finding what works best for any individual student. One of her biggest breakthroughs came when she stopped using hard and fast deadlines for assignments. She emphasizes that accepting late work and even changing the parameters of the assignment when necessary are great tools to help children reach their goals, feel confident and enjoy the subject being taught.
Ms. Walter would advise young and aspiring educators to find ways to address the needs of the students before addressing your own, remember that the students need to learn to love the subject being taught, and that each child deserves the absolute best you can give them. For her excellence, she has been presented with a Marquis Who’s Who Humanitarian Award. Beyond the accolades she has received, Ms. Walter considers the most gratifying aspect of her career to be when students remember her and thank her decades after they were in her classroom. She hopes to cultivate a legacy as someone who loves what she does as well as the people that she works with.
Happily married to her husband, George A. Walter, since 1986, Ms. Walter is today the proud mother of 15 children: Windy, David, George, Curtis, Ben, Lynn, Jared A., Jared D. Michael, Katy, Rochelle, Tracy, Melinda, Christopher and Jennifer. Their family has also grown to include 31 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Throughout everything, Ms. Walter’s motto has always been, “Keep a smile on your face and remember that you love the people that you’re with.”