Welcome home – John Parker

Published 6:53 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

JACKSON – Back where it all began!

Dr. John Parker – born, raised and educated in Northampton County – is the choice to serve as Interim Superintendent of Northampton County Public Schools.

Dr. John Parker

Dr. John Parker

At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting here Monday night, the Northampton County Board of Education was unanimous in their vote to name Parker as interim superintendent. He replaces Dr. Eric C. Bracy who resigned in late December to accept the position of superintendent of the Sampson County Public Schools.

Parker, the retired superintendent of schools for the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District, is a native of Woodland and a 1968 graduate of Northampton County High School. He will assume leadership of the district on Monday, Feb. 3 and will work under a five-month contract while the school board searches for a permanent replacement.

“June (his wife, also a Northampton native) and I are excited over the fact to have this opportunity to come home and give back to the school system that played such an important role, had such a great impact, in our lives,” said Parker. “The timing is good to accept this position. There are no major projects currently on my agenda, and the job fits my experience as an educator and educational administrator.

“I feel the most productive time of my career was when I was teaching and coaching in Northampton County and June was the Media Coordinator at Northampton-West (High School),” Parker continued. “We both had the chance to get to know our students, and have remained in contact with many of them over the years, reveling in the successes they have accomplished as adults in their chosen career fields.

“Being the choice of the school board there to serve as interim superintendent gives me the opportunity to do it all again, to help the young people of Northampton County and the teachers tackle and overcome the challenges of today’s world,” he added.

Parker has 34 years of experience in public education. He was a high school mathematics teacher and athletic coach for 18 of those years, having worked at Bayside High School in Virginia Beach, VA, Northampton County High School-East, and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. For 16 years he worked as a district administrator in Northampton County and Roanoke Rapids school districts.

He retired as Superintendent of Roanoke Rapids Graded School District in 2006 after five years of service in that position. Under his leadership the Roanoke Rapids community initiated Roanoke Rapids Living to Learn High School, a school supported by the North Carolina New Schools Project, an organization in which he served as a lead program consultant upon his retirement from Roanoke Rapids Graded Schools until June 2012.

But retirement isn’t a word in Parker’s vocabulary. He currently serves as Lead Consultant for BigIdeas4theCommonCore, an organization that works with schools and districts interested in developing curriculum structures, especially units that build upon student ability to apply 21st Century Learning Skills in their educational pursuits.

“Basically, my role with that non-profit organization is as an independent consultant with a goal to re-think how education needs to be delivered at the high school level,” Parker said. “It was our organization that developed EarlyCollegeHigh School, which is now a big success statewide.”

For three years, Parker co-directed the organization’s Learning Lab Initiative, a program that met its goal of developing four host schools (one in each geographic region of the state) to serve as models of breaking the mold of traditional high school education.

“It was all about project based learning and I was able to learn a lot from that work,” Parker noted. “One of the biggest things I learned is that we’re going to see more investment in Pre-K education. Down the road that means students will graduate earlier from high school, 15-to-16-year-olds. The world is changing and to keep abreast we need to be open and honest about change; our educational model needs to change to keep pace.”

Parker holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Guilford College, a master’s degree in mathematics education from UNC-Greensboro, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership from East Carolina University.

He hails from a local family known for its deep rooted faith-based, educational, and athletic values.

His father, the late George Conrad Parker, once served on the Northampton County Board of Education as well as a member of the Northampton County Education Foundation. He was a birthright member of the Society of Friends and maintained a lifelong membership at Cedar Grove Friends Meeting. He was recorded as a minister in Rich Square Monthly Meeting in 1968 and served both the monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings as clerk. The late Mr. Parker was a charter inductee (1970) into the Guilford College Sports Hall of Fame.

All of his siblings served as educators – Conrad Parker is retired from education; Elwood Parker is currently a professor at Guilford College; Edgar Parker retired as an instructor at James Madison University and now teaches part time at Guilford; and Elizabeth Parker Haskins has retired.

His mother, Elizabeth Gilliam Parker, still calls Northampton County as home.

Parker and his wife, who currently live on the Outer Banks, will briefly move back to Northampton County while he fulfills his five-month contract.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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