Walden Community School Advisory Board

Walden's Community Advisory Board consists of local education professionals who share a passion for learning and for student-centered education. These individuals understand and applaud Walden's focus on educating the whole person through the use of creative, hands-on, integrated, and concept-based teaching -- as an alternative to test-driven and one-size-fits-all instruction. By sharing their experience and expertise, Community Advisory Board members help Walden enhance its programs, strengthen and utilize its ties to the community, and provide its students with the best possible individualized and meaningful education.


Barbara Harrell Child, Ph.D., retired English professor  

Barbara Harrell Carson received her B.A. from Florida State University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University. After teaching at Towson State College in Baltimore and then the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she joined the faculty at Rollins College. Here, Dr. Carson found her true calling: teaching at a small liberal arts college whose ideal was the creation of a community of learners fostered by close professor-­student relationships and the active engagement of students in their own education.  

 During her twenty-­seven years at Rollins, she received numerous teaching awards for her high standards and charged, challenging, and intellectually exciting classroom discussions. The author of many articles and a book on American literature, Dr. Carson has also written widely on the subject of effective college teaching. One of her best­-known articles concluded that what students treasure most about their education is not primarily the content they carry away, but the attitudes about learning (and about their own capacity to learn and grow) that successful professors stimulate. In retirement, Dr. Carson has created a program for mentoring Rollins professors and joined the Walden Advisory Board, which felt to her like a natural extension of a lifelong dedication to education.   

In Walden Community School, I discovered a place that enacted, on the primary school level, the ideals of teaching and learning that I have come to believe best serve young minds. Here I found a joyous environment, where students actively engage in the pursuit of knowledge. The first time I stepped into a Walden classroom, I saw its difference from the typical school. Students were considering deep and significant conceptual questions, and, led by talented teachers, they pursued them with excitement and surprising sophistication. Walden also struck me as a place committed to developing the whole person: the mind, of course; but also the body (I love the fact that at Walden there is still time for free play outside, as well as for physical education), the emotions (when, for example, students become feelingly involved in the study of slavery and the Civil War), and the creative self (art, absent from so many schools today, is, I learned, alive at Walden).


Robert Carson, Ph.D., retired Physics professor  

Robert Carson received his B.S. at Florida State University with a double major in physics and mathematics before completing his Ph.D. in High Energy Physics at Johns Hopkins University. After a two-­year post­-doc at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Dr. Carson began teaching at Rollins College and continued there for the next 35 years, serving as Chair of Physics for 13 years, teaching physics at all levels, representing science in the Rollins Master of Liberal Studies program, and co-­creating a course in physical science for Elementary Education majors.  For five years, he also co-­developed and taught summer workshops on physical science for elementary education teachers throughout Florida.  Dr. Carson has received several prestigious teaching awards throughout his career, while also engaging in research directed at finding better ways of educating students in science.  He has always been interested in teaching (as well as learning) and especially loves being able to expose the beauty and wonder of science to those who may never take a science class again.  

Retiring to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dr. Carson continued with his interest in art and sculpture and graduated with his A.A. in Fine Arts from Santa Fe Community College in 2015.  As he said, “I guess learning never stops!”  

On a recent visit to Walden to present a workshop on physical science, I was amazed at how the children were working independently (as well as in small groups) on so many subjects. This learning is the antithesis of today’s “fill out the worksheet” rote methods. Walden learning, guided by dedicated teaching, is the hope for our future.

Hoyt Edge, Ph.D., retired Philosophy professor  

Hoyt Edge received his B.A. from Stetson University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University.  He began teaching immediately at Rollins College, where he continued to work for the next 44 years.  During his career at Rollins, Dr. Edge received a number of teaching awards and distinctions and had more than 75 publications in the areas of philosophy, psychology, and anthropology.  Additionally, he served in several administrative posts at Rollins, including Associate Dean of the Faculty, Interim Dean of the Faculty, Director of Australian Studies, Interim Director of International Programs, and Interim Director of International Initiatives. 

Dr. Edge’s research allowed him to engage in one of his joys: traveling, a pursuit taking him to some 50 countries, including Australia, where he studied Aboriginal culture for a year, and Bali, where his last two and a half decades of research focused. He has also served as Guest Professor at the Royal University of Utrecht, Holland, and taught at the Paedigogishe Hochscule in Freiburg, Germany, and at East China University for Science and Technology in Shanghai, China.  Now retired, Dr. Edge continues to travel and to enjoy learning.  

I admire the unique education that occurs at Walden Community School. I see excitement in learning that is magical, and I appreciate the individual attention that students receive. Having taught philosophy all my life, I am used to college students engaging with deep concepts, but I am surprised at the seriousness and level of complexity that the Walden students display when they are focusing their discussions on important concepts in class. How can one be so serious and have such fun?


Lezlie Laws, Ph.D., retired English professor  

For more than four decades Dr. Laws has dedicated herself to the study of language, story, and spirit as they are shaped in literature and in relationships.  After receiving her M.A.  from North Texas State University and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, ­Columbia, she embarked on a career of teaching English and directing writing programs, first at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and then for 24 years at Rollins College.

In the years before her retirement, she began to create courses combining her two great enthusiasms: writing (and creativity in general) and yoga -- the perfect path to her next career as founder of LifeArt Studio, offering workshops, retreats, and coaching in creativity and the creative process, creative living, yoga asana, and the yogic tradition.  She holds certification in teaching Astanga yoga from the Hard and the Soft Astanga Yoga Institute.

It has been my honor to be associated with the Walden Community School; I only wish I were thirty years younger so I could apply to teach here. At Walden, students experience enlightened guidance and compassionate nudging toward learning, creating, exploring, and finding their own voices. The curriculum and the physical environment foster critical thinking and creative expression. But most astonishing about the Walden method is the gentle fashion in which students are led to develop independent thinking, and simultaneously led to examine and have confidence in their capacity to grow, change, and engage with their world in deeply satisfying ways. I’m pretty sure the world will be a very different place with more Walden graduates in it.

Roy Starling, Ph.D., retired English teacher and professor

Roy Starling received his Ph.D. from Florida State University in 1981 with a focus on British romantic poetry.  After a 15-year career as an English professor at Rollins College, where he won several prestigious teaching awards, Dr. Starling moved to Colorado where he wrote for Pagosa Springs’ weekly newspaper.  In order to be closer to his grandchildren, Dr. Starling then returned to Florida in 2000 and took a job teaching Advanced Placement English at Oviedo High School, his excellent teaching being recognized by the school and county with numerous awards.  

Dr. Starling has two children and four grandchildren. He is writing a memoir and frequently posts his work on Starknotes.net.

I taught for many years, but rarely have I witnessed a discussion as lively, informative and focused as the one I observed at Walden when I visited there. Walden is a place where there can still be great joy in learning and subsequent growth and self discovery.

Support Walden Community School

The community is integral to Walden's success and we welcome your support. For more ways to get involved,
contact Walden Community School at (407) 677-8225.