By Mikala McCurry, Chief Journalist
Montgomery, AL- Duwan Walker, a native of Cairo, Georgia, has been heavily involved in sports and education from the standpoint of a student athlete and a coach. During his time as a student athlete and a coach, Walker saw a lack of life skills and need for direction within the student-athlete community. In 2016, Duwan Walker and his wife Kaylyn received a vision from God to create a tool that bridges the gap for students’ success. They created Walker Enterprises Ala, LLC–a software development company that produces transitional educational products. The company’s main product is the Hi Ed platform.
The Walkers both attended Troy University where Duwan was an influential member of the football team. Duwan earned his undergraduate degree in Human Services with a double minor in Biology and Psychology and his Masters in Counseling. Kaylyn also received her degrees, a Bachelors in Mathematics and a Masters in Math Education, from Troy University. She later went on to achieve another Masters degree in Comprehensive Guidance Counseling from Troy.
After Duwan worked as a coach and defensive coordinator and Kaylyn as an educator for several years, they both found a common passion and purpose for developing, encouraging, and preparing students for life. Thus, the Hi Ed program was created.
Hyper Individualized Education Design, also known as Hi Ed, is a tool that builds transparency from school to home. It has 5 different components: academics, athletics, comp results, the market, and virtual life. It tracks graduation requirements and NCAA eligibility for high school students; it is also customized per school. Ultimately, Hi Ed is a tool that connects K-12, 2-year colleges, and workforce. “As a coach, we prepare daily for game day,” Duwan Walker said. “I believe in life, we need to prepare our students for game day. This happens whenever they enter the workforce.”
Hi Ed has trained at Park Crossing High School, Robert E. Lee High School, Jefferson Davis High School and Carver High School. The next step is to have student training and parent night to teach parents how to navigate the system. Coaches and counselors were very excited to see a system that will automatically allow parents and students to know exactly where they are as far as requirements for graduation and NCAA eligibility. “From an academic standpoint, I can easily look and see where a student is as far as their graduation credits or if they need credit recovery,“ said Sonya Wrig, a highschool guidance counselor. “I can also look for a student athlete to see if they have clearinghouse requirements. It is very flexible and very user friendly.”
In addition to educational tracking and NCAA eligibility reporting, the program also has a virtual life component, which allows students to live life virtually. The three goals to virtual life are to teach students how to budget, be responsible, and prepare for retirement. This is a gaming portal that allows students to explore the 16 career clusters. Once they choose a career path, they’ll receive a paycheck. After receiving a paycheck, they have to build a profile, which allows them to choose a home and other necessities needed in life. The virtual life program allows students to understand real life challenges. For example, if a student doesn’t pay a bill, they’ll receive a late fee and/or a disconnection notice. This teaches students responsibility. A credit score, late fees, and a budget are components of the virtual life program. The students are also required to have a savings account in the virtual life simulation by choosing between 5% and 20% of their salary. “Real life mishaps happen in this game,” Duwan Walker said. “The whole idea is to make sure the algorithms in this game attack the student. Just like in life when mishaps happen to us daily, we’re preparing our students for the future.”
Hi Ed is quickly growing. “I believe the program speaks for itself. Once you experience it, you’ll see the value of academic tracker and all the things that it gives parents as far as college admissions and scholarship requirements.” Both students and academic professionals have responded positively to implementation of the program. “I’m most impressed with the depth of the information in the Hi Ed program and the ease for students and parents to use the program.” Sharon Rhodes, a high school media specialist, said. A highschool student also spoke highly of the program saying, “Academics and sports both have some connection to each other… and this is the best way to get to it, Hi Ed.” Within its first 2 years in business, Hi Ed is already in 22 schools in the State of Alabama and is in progress in Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio.
Some students graduate and go to the military, a 2 or 4-year college, or the workforce. Regardless of their avenue, they need to be prepared. The Walker’s hope with Hi Ed is to establish it as a common language nationwide and internationally as a way for students and parents to have success tracking themselves to graduation to careers and beyond.
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