2000 – Vanessa Siddle Walker

Vanessa Siddle Walker brings personal experience and professional expertise to her book “Their Highest Potential: An African American School Community in the Segregated South.”

The book was published in 1996 by University of North Carolina Press.

A product of the community described in her book, she went on to a distinguished college career. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina and her master’s and doctorate in education from Harvard University.

An associate professor in the division of educational studies at Emory University, Walker began her career as a high school teacher at Chapel Hill High School and then spent four years at Cummings High School in Burlington, N.C. She also taught English seminars for two summers at a math and science program for minority scholars at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.

Walker’s higher education career began with a teaching assistantship at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1985. She served as an adjunct instructor of critical reading and writing at Wheelock College in Boston in 1987 and as an assistant professor in the English and education departments at Elon College in North Carolina the following year.

Walker then served as a visiting assistant professor in the language in education division of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education from 1988 to1990. She moved to Emory as an assistant professor in 1990 and was promoted to associate professor in 1996.

She has written and presented dozens of articles, addresses and presentations, as well as two books. She also has received many honors and awards, including the Raymond Cattell Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association, the Spelman College Award for Outstanding Leadership in Education, the Young Scholars Award from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, the Best First Book Award from the History Division of the American Educational Research Association and the Best New Female Scholar Award from the Research Focus on Black Education of the American Educational Research Association. She also received a Spencer Foundation post doctoral fellowship.

Walker has served as a member of many organizations, including the editorial boards of “Urban Review,” “History of Education Quarterly” and the Harvard Educational Review. She also serves on the American Educational Research Association’s research advisory council and is formerly a member of the archives committee and the Harvard Graduate School of Education alumni council.