In a world where everything is changing, our kids need teachers more than ever. Their teachers are the calm in the storm, the constant outside of their homes. Joseph Campbell said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Traci Parkinson is a hero. As a sixth-grade teacher, she has the unique position of wrapping up seven years of elementary school while preparing her kids to take on the new and big world of junior high. It’s a tall order, and she does it so well.

In the Harry Potter series, Professor McGonagall is a fan favorite. She doesn’t go easy on her students. She expects a lot from them. She is a protector — strong, powerful, and a force for good. Traci Parkinson is Eaglecrest’s version of Professor McGonagall. She demands the best from her students. She challenges them, holds them accountable, and does it all while loving them fiercely. Traci has real-world conversations with her students. They talk about current events and how those things affect them. She is their safe place. Her classroom is a place where students learn to think critically and become the best version of themselves. 

When the pandemic hit, her students wondered what would happen to all the end-of-the-year celebrations to which they looked forward. Some well-loved traditions are making Mother’s Day books, graduation, and taking their picture by the bookcase. Each year, Traci takes a picture of her students at Back to School night and then again a few days before school ends. “None of us realize how much our kids grow up — how they mature and how their confidence matures in our classroom — because we treat it like a family,” Traci said. She was determined to give her students their end-of-year picture, so she brought the bookcase outside so her students could come to school and get their picture taken while staying within the appropriate guidelines. Every student came to do it.

When asked if she grows as many parents as children, Traci said, “I think I grow the parents more than I grow the kids, so they can be ready for their kids to move on to junior high, because parents have a hard time letting go.” It’s a big change to go to junior high, for students and parents. If you ask parents who have been in her class, they will tell you that Traci creates an environment where communication is welcome and encouraged — a place where parents are truly partners in their child’s education. Traci knows that every student comes with a different set of talents and challenges. “I think me having cancer made me realize that none of these kids fit in a cookie cutter,” Traci said. This perspective allows her to tailor learning to the individual student. The personalized approach is what allows her students to thrive and know that they are loved.

When you look at how long she has taught and how many kids have come through her class, it is remarkable. For 30 years, hundreds of kids and parents have come through her doors. Hundreds of people’s lives have been changed because they became part of her family. When asked about how she has been able to do it for so long, Traci said, “I think that’s been why I’ve been able to teach for so long — because my family at home has been a part of it. I think one of the biggest things is that the kids and their parents know is my family cares about them, too.” In a world where things are constantly changing, Traci Parkinson is the anchor and support our community needs. Central Bank is proud to name her Educator of the Month.

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