TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Kathy Parker is all booked up

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, February 8, 2023

This article is part of a series by The Vicksburg Post, in partnership with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, featuring each of the nominees for teacher of the year honors. 

Kathy Parker, a librarian at Sherman Avenue Elementary, fosters a love for reading in her library.

“Two of my primary goals as a librarian are to help students connect text to self and to also instill a love of reading into each and every student at Sherman.”

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Parker is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Educator of the Year award. The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon on Feb. 15. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union. 

Parker started as a first-grade teacher at Hernando Elementary in 1992 in Hernando. She then taught at Powell Middle School as a sixth-grade science teacher in Jackson in 1993. Starting in 2003, Parker became a first-grade teacher at Van Winkle Elementary School in Jackson. Parker then taught at Baker Elementary in Jackson as a second-grade teacher. In 2008, she was the second-grade teacher at Gary Road Elementary in Byram. Then in 2009, she became Gary Road Elementary’s librarian. In 2018, Parker became Sherman Avenue Elementary’s librarian.

Parker received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Mississippi University for Women in 1992. Then in 2000, she got her master’s degree in elementary education from Mississippi College. 

While in Parker’s library, she reinforces the lessons her students learn during their English language arts (ELA)  lessons.

“I do work to reinforce concepts and standards taught in the classroom with my library lessons. For example, if second graders learned about finding the main idea and supporting details last month during their ELA lessons, I will focus on that same skill with a book we read aloud in our library,” Parker said. 

She also explained in her application how she always encourages her students to read beyond what is required.

“I constantly promote and encourage students to read more books at school and at home by improving our library book collection, planning special events such as AR Read-Ins and reward parties, recognizing reading achievement through programs such as our Book Clubs,” she said.

In Parker’s library, she tries to build a love for reading by connecting her students to characters.

“By presenting books to students that allow them to see themselves reflected in characters,” she said.

She tries to fill the library with all types of backgrounds and cultures.

“Representation is so important, not only so my students can see themselves in books, but also to see how others live. Books help my students explore other places and cultures around the world,” she said.