Leaving with fond memories
"The sign that says 'Small Town Friendly,' it's so true. I will miss the people and the friends that I've made."
Barbara Parker, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction with Rutherford County Schools, is preparing for the next step in her career. She has resigned from the school system to become the new president of Haywood Community College in Haywood County where she grew up.
“Growing up in Haywood County, I have had the opportunity to watch Haywood Community College transform into the institution it is today," Parker said. "I am excited to be a part of the college and recognize the critical impact the college has on our county’s economic development. I look forward to giving back to my community by becoming more involved with local organizations and community events "
Parker began her career as a teacher in Kentucky after graduating from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville and has over 30 years of experience in education. She found her way to Rutherford County after being in Buncombe County for seven years where she was a principal and director of secondary education.
She decided to pursue the position at Haywood because community college was the one level of education she had not experienced. She said it was the next logical step in her education career and she hopes to stay connected with Rutherford County through the community college system.
"I think that while I'll be at the community college level, there will be opportunities for our paths to cross again and I'm excited about the people that I know at ICC (Isothermal Community College) and getting to keep my connection with them. They have already been so supportive of me and have been really good to sit with me and talk with me and answer questions," Parker said. "So while I'm losing one part of Rutherford County, I'm gaining another part."
Parker said that as president of Haywood she hopes to help the college continue to be a major player in the development of the community.
"We have distance programs at Haywood Community College that span the state. So I think it needs to continue to be a positive culture of support for our students, for the community we serve and the region we serve," Parker said. "So I think my message would be one of communication. I like to be in a positive environment and I get the sense it is a very positive one there. I think my goal will be just to provide the best programming we can and to meet the needs of the community, the businesses and the students."
She said being a part of the RCS system has been rewarding because of the dedication of the staff to the serving the students.
"You can't ask for a better quality staff. I'm proud to have been associated with a group of people like that," Parker said.
Her years with RCS have provided memorable experiences, she said.
"All of my favorite memories focus around things I've done with students, things like seeing students present their graduation projects and going to different events at our elementary schools where students share their work," Parker said. "I wouldn't say I have a favorite memory of Rutherford County, I would just say I have fond memories of the whole experience."
Dr. Janet Mason, RCS superintendent, said Parker will be missed.
"She has an unmatched work ethic and knowledge of curriculum. We've really benefited from having her here and we wish her the best," Mason said.
Dr. David Sutton will be replacing Parker as assistant of curriculum and instruction. He is coming to RCS from Transylvania County Schools where he served as the executive director. His appointment becomes effective July 1.