Lee County Schools Teacher of the Week — Brandy Parker
Name: Brandy Parker
School: J.R. Ingram Jr. Elementary School
Grades/subjects you teach: Kindergarten teacher
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date, place of birth: Aug. 2, 1978, Laurinburg, N.C.
Education (high school & college attended, degrees): Richmond Senior High School; St. Andrews Presbyterian College, bachelor of arts degree in elementary education
Brief work history: I began my teaching career at West Rockingham Elementary in Richmond County. I taught first grade for six years. I began teaching at J.R. Ingram in 2008. I taught second grade for two years. I am currently in my second year of kindergarten.
Teaching honors/awards: I was awarded teacher of the year at West Rockingham Elementary for the 2007/2008 school year.
Hobbies/interests outside teaching: I love spending time with my family, traveling to the beach, reading and gardening.
Family: My wonderful husband is Darrell Parker, to whom I've been married to for 10 years. We have two beautiful, amazing children. My son, Jackson, is 8 years old, and my daughter, Ava, is 2 years old.
What led you to a career as a teacher? When I was a little girl, I used to play school all the time like a lot of little girls do. I would tell my parents I want to be a teacher when I grow up. As I got older, I never wavered from wanting to be a teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher so that I could help children have a positive influence on their lives.
Who were your favorite teachers as you went through school, and what did you learn from them?One of my favorite teachers was my fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Mackie. She was AWESOME! She was funny and made learning fun. She had a relaxing personality. She was firm but made you feel loved. Another of my favorite teachers was one of my fifth-grade teachers, Mrs. Fuller. She was also funny, extremely intelligent and had a relaxing personality and classroom. Mrs. Fuller later became principal at West Rockingham Elementary School and gave me my first teaching job! They both will always have a special place in my heart.
Has becoming a teacher been all you expected it would be?
Fulfillment-wise and feeling as if I affect the lives of my students, yes, it has been what I expected and rewarding. But, on being prepared for ALL that the title “teacher” entails, no, it's not what I expected 11 years ago. When you first begin teaching, you're so excited. You have so many wonderful ideas and lessons. You can't wait to get started. The reality is it's not just teaching wonderful lessons to your students. Teachers do so much more than just teach the required material. Teachers wear many, many hats.
How has teaching changed since you were a student?
Teaching has changed on many levels since I was a student. Not only has the curriculum changed, but the respect toward teachers has changed. I would never disrespect any of my teachers. I knew to have and show respect no matter what, which my parents instilled. Many teachers lack the respect they deserve from students, as well as parents. One thing that hasn't changed is the passion and commitment I see in my coworkers, as I saw in my teachers when I was younger.
What "makes your day" as a teacher?
Many things make my day as a teacher, not just one. Making my day as a teacher is having ALL of my students present. When one is missing, my class is incomplete. Seeing my students smile and laugh makes my day. Seeing the “lightbulb” go off in one or all of my students makes my day. Hearing my students say they love me makes my day!
What's working in schools today?
Teachers are working in schools today.
What's not working?
Teachers being told when and how to teach and not being given the overall freedom to teach their way. Where's the trust to let teachers teach how we feel comfortable teaching?
What's your favorite memory of your first year as a teacher?
I have many memories from my first year as a teacher. But, the one that stands out the most is constantly being mistaken for a student by my coworkers and principal. I'm a short gal, and at the time looked like I was in high school. So, many, many times I was mistaken as a student.
How would your "teacher" persona handle you as a student?
I think my “teacher” persona would handle me as a student just fine. I was the quiet, always-did-what-I-was-told, never-wanted-the-teacher-to-think-I-wasn't-a-good-girl kind of student. I always wanted to please my teachers and to be the best student I could be.
Best piece of advice for other teachers?
It is very easy to become overwhelmed and stressed with the many tasks of our job. We have to be flexible and easy on ourselves. We need to say, "I'll come back to that tomorrow." Everything we have to accomplish will get done, but don't let it consume our lives.
My advice for students is to be honest, be respectful, always work to the best of your abilities and enjoy being a KID!! There is so much fun to be had being a kid.
My advice for parents is to listen to your children, give them your undivided attention and let them know how important and loved they are every day!
If you were superintendent for a day, you'd:
I truly have no clue! I would probably “throw in the towel” after the first five minutes. I have no idea what all the duties and responsibilities are for a superintendent. I'm not the kind of person who wants to be in charge and lead a school system. I’m okay being a leader in my classroom, but not on the superintendent level.
What about your job would surprise your non-teaching friends the most?
I believe the non-stop pace of my job would surprise my friends who aren’t teachers. As soon as my students come in the classroom, my assistant and I are full speed ahead. That doesn’t stop until dismissal. Many times, that pace continues after dismissal. Our job doesn’t stop when the 2:30 p.m. bell rings.
If you could somehow magically instill one truth into the heads of your students, what would it be?
You are truly amazing!
When you think about today's kids, you:
Smile and worry. I smile because they have so many opportunities and advantages that weren't around when I was in school. For example, the wide array of technology that is at their fingertips. This can be positive and negative. I worry because many of our kids today aren't given the time and attention they long for and deserve. Many are left to fend for themselves and to figure life out on their own.
If one of your students was asked for a one-word description of you by a student who hadn't had you in class, what would that one word be?
Favorite movie about school or teaching:
How would you summarize your teaching philosophy?
I try my best to give each of my students what they need on his/her ability level. At times, it is very difficult to accomplish, but I have to keep trying my best to teach them what they are ready for.
What five things must every teacher know?
1. How to multi-task
2. How to be flexible
3. How to talk to students on their level
4. How to be a team player
5. How to teach (That may sound funny, but it’s true.)
What's special about your classroom?
My students, my assistant and I are what make our classroom special. We discuss on the first day of school with our students that we are a family. We're going to treat each other with kindness, respect and love. We treat others the way we want to be treated. My assistant and I also like to be funny and have fun with our students. Although our schedule is busy, we have to allot some time for fun!
What's special about your school?
J.R. Ingram is special because of its committed staff, students and parents. J.R. Ingram teachers, teacher assistants included, are the best! We want ALL of our students to be successful. Many go above and beyond to make this happen. Our students are good children! They are hard workers and want praise and acknowledgment that they're doing a good job. J.R. Ingram’s parents are very supportive and always willing to do whatever is needed of them — the complete recipe for success!
Most unusual question you've ever gotten from a student?
A few years ago, when I was teaching first grade, my husband came to visit my class to read the story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I introduced my husband and told the students his name was Mr. Parker, etc. Before reading the story, one of my students asked, “Is that man your daddy?” My husband, my assistant and my students got the giggles. We couldn't stop laughing. As I said before, I used to get mistaken for a student when I first began teaching, but I didn't think I looked that young!