John Parker has teaching and administrative experience on three continents, but believes he’s “coming home” after being chosen Saturday as the next superintendent of the Central Valley School District.
On July 1, Parker will replace Ben Small, who is retiring after 14 years as CV superintendent.
Parker was raised in the Puget Sound area and has been a teacher and administrator in Western Washington, China and currently in Colombia.
But that dream began at Washington State University, where Parker earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1988 and a master’s in 1997.
Parker also has extended family in Spokane, but the main attraction of Central Valley is “the excellence of its schools and the strength of its community,” he said Saturday afternoon.
Parker was in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday and about to catch a flight to Colombia, where for the past three years he has been the director of an international school in Bogota.
Parker also worked from 2003-6 as a teacher and principal at an international school in Shanghai, but the bulk of his experience has been as a teacher and administrator in Puyallup, Washington.
Parker grew up in Sumner, not far from Puyallup. He went into education because he “wanted to connect with kids as a teacher, have them find relevance in their education and have them discover how incredible it can be to be committed to learning.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree , Parker worked for 15 years as a secondary teacher in Puyallup, a district of 23,500 near Tacoma. He returned from China in 2006 to become an instructional coach in science in Puyallup. Three years later, he worked in special services, supporting Title 1 and the Learning Assistance Program.
From 2010 to 2013, Parker was the director of Instructional Leadership for K-12 math and science. For the next two years, he was Puyallup’s director of instructional leadership, specializing in technology integration.
From 2015 to 2019, Parker served as an area superintendent with responsibility for about 8,000 students.
That varied experience was a major factor in the decision to hire Parker, board President Cynthia McMullen said Saturday.
“His broad, diverse educational experience and innovation stood out in the interview process as well as his clear commitment to our students and community,” McMullen said. “We look forward to working with him – collaboratively with all our stakeholders – to continue building on the good work within the Central Valley community that we all proudly call home.”
That also was a point of emphasis for Parker, who said he was “looking forward to meeting with community stakeholders and doing a lot of listening, rolling up my sleeves and addressing the challenges of the pandemic and also working hard to unify the district and bring groups together.”
Despite being abroad during the pandemic, Parker said he and his colleagues confronted the same challenges faced by those in the United States.
“We had to provide wraparound help, the social-emotional aspects in many regards,” said Parker, who promises to work to mitigate learning loss and other issues related to the pandemic.
“I would like to thank you for the vote in confidence. I am honored to be the next superintendent for Central Valley,” Parker said.
The other candidates were Tavis Peterson, assistant superintendent at the Wapato, Washington, school district; Troy Tornow, assistant superintendent at Educational Service District in southeastern Washington; and Oscar Harris, chief family and community engagement officer at Spokane Public Schools.
Each finalist spent one day meeting with school officials and staff, students and community members.
As part of the selection process, Associated Student Body high school student leaders from across the district met with each candidate and shared their comments and reactions with the School Board.
“We have a lot to be proud of in these stellar student representatives from across all of our schools,” McMullen said.
After taking Friday off, the board met Saturday morning and voted unanimously to hire Parker.
Parker will earn $234,272 annually in base pay.
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