85-year old Kamloops woman goes back to school

By Tanya Cronin
April 5, 2016 - 5:16pm Updated: April 5, 2016 - 6:25pm

KAMLOOPS — Many students go back to school to receive their high school diploma, but very few do it in their 80's. 

Yet that's the path charted by Theresa Walker, an 85 year old woman living in Kamloops. 

VIDEO: Full story by Tanya Cronin

Walker attends Street School twice a week, a continuing education program for adults resuming their learning, and are unlikely to do so in a traditional school setting. 

Walker is focused on finishing what she started, 72 years ago.

She's living proof that learning is life-long.

"I've finished everything, math, english, social studies, I'm doing geography now," says Theresa Walker.         
It has been 72 years since Theresa Walker sat down to study a textbook. After finishing eighth grade in 1944, this 85 year old grandmother was forced to leave high school, her education coming to a halt.

"My father, he didn't think much of education for a woman, he was old country German, and the housewife should sit and stay in the house and stir the sauerkraut and so forth."

But over 7 decades later, Theresa is now getting a second chance at her high school diploma. It's all thanks to Street School, an adult education program, providing people of all walks of life the opportunity to graduate.   

"Most of our students haven't graduated and they may have struggled in their high school experience, so they're coming back to graduate, some of our students have graduated and they're upgrading so we're almost like a little community," says Pete Grinberg, Street School Coordinator.

Spearheaded by School District 73, Street School operates with 4 teachers and receives financial support from over 40 community agencies, including the United Way, Literacy in Kamloops and Interior Community Services. 

"It truly is a program that's looked on from other districts in the province as being the model for what adult education should be, it's extremely successful, we'll graduate 30 to 40 adults a year in a full blown graduation ceremony," says Kent Brewer, Street School Principal.

Located in Northills Shopping Centre, in a course of a year the program sees between 400 and 450 students pass through the doors. Months and sometimes years of hard work, paying off. 

"We've had daughters and moms graduate, we've had students come from huge addictions issues, from corrections, you come back and graduate," says Grinberg.    

For Theresa Walker, everyday is a new adventure. 4 children and many grandchildren later, this 85 year old is ready to put on a cap and gown, and walk across the stage. After all, it's never too late to accomplish your goals. 

"Instead of sitting in the apartment looking out, it gives you a reason to get up in the morning and a chance to learn, it's wonderuful to learn," says Walker.


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