Captain of Ship Lands Ashore

Head Principal Jeff Walker retires after 28 years


courtesy Charlemo yearbooks

Yearbook pictures of Jeff walker (left) in his first year as Head Principal of SCHS and (right) of Walker in the 2020 school year.

by Colton Schroer, Broadcast Liaison

Dealing with kids in education is one thing, but running a high school as a principal is another. Head Principal Jeff Walker is officially retiring after the 2021-2022 school year after 28 long years in education. After dealing with a pandemic in 2020, Walker has become stronger and a lot better at his job after experiencing something so unexpected. He started at Pattonville as an assistant varsity basketball coach, science teacher, and assistant principal.

“This is my twenty-eighth year in education. The last few years have been a little bit harder and unanticipated given the circumstances from 2020,” Walker said. “When I first started teaching, I wanted to teach and coach. So I ended up getting hired a Pattonville. I was assistant varsity basketball coach, and taught science classes. I taught for 11 years and then became an assistant principal in my own building. I knew the school, I knew the kids. I lived in the Pattonville community as well. I knew the community. I just had to learn how to become an assistant principal.”

A principal of any school has to deal with conflict and tough things throughout their career, but Walker kept on striving to be the leader of SCHS.

“When I was asked early in my career about being the principal, I said, ‘heck no,’ because a principal deals with all the negatives. There’s always more positives than the negatives. The funny thing though is this job is much like if you want to focus on the negative, then you’ll see more negatives and if you want to focus on the positive, you’ll see more positives,” Walker said. “If you really step back, look at the big picture, there’s always much more positives that take place than the negatives in this job.”

My last day will officially be June 30. That will also be a hard day to be just me along with my 12 employees and there are just a few of us here. I think it’ll hit me sometime in July when I’m not having to go to work anymore.

— Jeff Walker

Starting out early in his career, he went to school to really figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

“I started taking a bunch of science classes. I also played high school basketball and I had a chance to play some junior college basketball and baseball and didn’t do it. I was the third of three brothers and just me and my mom. My dad passed away when I was 16, so I wasn’t fully ready to leave the house,” Walker said.

As people try to figure out what they want to do when they grow up and get older, sometimes opportunities come to them.

“A friend of mine had a young kid and I used to umpire and referee when I was growing up and he approached me and asked if I could coach his son’s basketball team, and I said, ‘sure.’ Immediately I just connected with the kids and had such a good time with just working with kids and teaching them to play a game,” Walker said.

When that opportunity was given to Walker, that put another path and thought in front of him to experience and even pursue for the next 28 years.

“Once I started working with kids and seeing their energy and how much fun and the enjoyment they had when they could finally do something they couldn’t do beforehand, that’s what got me into saying, ‘okay maybe I do want to go into teaching and education,” Walker said.

Someone who has made a well bonded relationship with Walker is the Superintendent of schools, Jason Sefrit. He would take the job just a couple years after Walker became the head principal of SCHS.

“I think he’s done an outstanding job and we are starting to lose him to retirement which is very sad.”

Sefrit has been working with Walker for the past six years and has created a bond so strong, nothing could break it.

“So for the last six years we have been able to basically work side by side, shoulder to shoulder together on almost everything you can think of for a school and it’s been my honor and my privilege to work with him,” Sefrit said.

These last 28 years for Walker have been a rollercoaster for him and the friends that he has made along the way have become his family. He has gained so much knowledge to pass on to the next principal and on from there. On the last day of school, Walker will take his last walk.

“My last day will officially be June 30. That will also be a hard day to be just me along with my 12 employees and there are just a few of us here. I know that I’ll walk the building several times that day because it’d be my last day as the captain. I think it’ll hit me sometime in July when I’m not having to go to work anymore,” Walker said.

Walker has finally graduated from school after attending since the age of 5. Long years building up this moment and he is able to go out on his own terms.