Project Description

May 23, 1956 – February 18, 2021

“If you can change the life of one person, you can change the world.”

Throughout her lifetime, Laurie Walters changed a lot of lives. She built her life around doing what she loved best: teaching children.

Laurie grew up in Mar Vista, California, a leafy suburb of west Los Angeles, raised by her parents, Sandy and Lloyd Walters. Their big dog Seymour was a part of the family.

Laurie attended Mar Vista Elementary School. She joined a Bluebird troop, and in the summers, she went to Tumbleweed Day Camp, later becoming a junior counsellor there. Both the Bluebirds and Tumbleweed cemented lifelong and treasured friendships.

Laurie’s interest in working with young children and teaching began early. Her aunt Arlene Morris, a teacher, was her first and most important, role model, Laurie knew from the beginning, that’s what she wanted to do too.

She attended Webster Junior High School, graduating from University High School. At Uni, she met her second important role model, and lifelong friend, teacher Sue McWhirter Solig.

She graduated from University of California Santa Barbara, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Anthropology in 1978. Laurie earned her Masters of Arts degree in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University, then went on to earn a Doctorate of Education Industrial Management from Pepperdine. She went on to teach and to develop curriculum at LB Weems Elementary School in Los Angeles.

“Dr. Laurie” was a beloved and magnificent teacher, always going beyond the call of duty. When one former young student, Shania, coming from challenging circumstances, needed a safe place to stay, Laurie gave her a home.

She learned Spanish to better communicate with her students and their parents.

After 27 years of teaching, when Laurie had the opportunity, she started her own charter school, The New Open World Academy K-12.

The New Open World Academy, also known as the NOW Academy, was one of the first in the country designed by those who taught in the classroom.

The story can be found in “Chalk Talk” at

Aside from her passion for teaching, Laurie also had a passion for life. Her diverse interests included watching all Sports, World Travel, a love of Carousels, Music, especially Barbra Streisand, Plays, Roller Coasters, Disneyland, New York City, cats, and her valued friends. She had many adventures with her lifelong best friend and “sister”, Denise. When they took a fun filled trip to NYC in 2019, she was persuaded by her nutty friend to go to 6 Broadway shows in 5 days! She loved it, and was always enthusiastic about all that she did, savoring each minute and open to any new adventure that came her way.

She faced all challenges with a strong determination. Laurie was a fighter.

When faced with a challenging medical diagnosis, she took it step-by-step. She became a member of the support group for Ocular Melanoma. Laurie was a member of the Board of Director’s for A Cure In Sight. Laurie’s passion was to improve information to educate the public and to fund research for a cure for ocular melanoma.

While surviving that disease, sadly, Laurie succumbed to Covid 19

Laurie was loved and she will be missed by all who had the privilege to know her. She was a devoted daughter, loving niece and cherished by her many friends, students and colleagues.

With her passing, it was Laurie’s wish that all donations go to the organization of Ocular Melanoma Awareness,