Emily Parker instills a desire to learn and achieve in her students everyday by her endearing and persistent tone of encouragement to her students. To Emily, it doesn’t matter if the child is a current student, former student, or just a student in her school that she hasn’t had the privilege of teaching yet. No matter the student’s status, Emily treats all the children the same. She tends to treat each child as a blooming flower that she can help to water and grow.
Mrs. Parker is a third-grade teacher for Loudoun County Public Schools at Round Hill Elementary School in Round Hill, VA. This year marks her 19th year of teaching and her sixth year at Round Hill Elementary. In her third grade classroom, Emily Parker has a mirror inside with positive affirmations all around it. So, when the child looks in the full length mirror, they see words like: “I am Brave”, “I am a Leader”, “I am Strong”, “I am Empowered”. Emily truly sets the tone of having each child feel self-confident by building them up. Each day, she encourages every child to think positively about themselves and encourages a “can-do” attitude with every student. When she notices a child who is giving up on a subject or seeming disinterested, Emily finds ways to reach out to them individually, taking them aside, and making learning fun and engaging with hands on learning and specialized one on one time.
The first time I ever interacted with Emily Parker was when my child was assigned to her classroom in August 2019. On that the day we got our teacher letters in the mail. We were excited to get a letter from the school telling us that Mrs. Parker would be my child’s teacher because I heard from other parents that she was absolutely amazing. That same day, all of the parents for Mrs. Parker’s class received a personal email from Mrs. Parker, which welcomed our children to her classroom and told us about herself and her high hopes for an exciting new year. My first thought was how wonderful it was for her to take her time to reach out with such an encouraging email to the parents. By now, my child was in third grade, and no teacher had ever sent us a welcome email. I knew right then, that Emily Parker was someone who stood out form the rest. The following week, we went to back to school night to meet our child’s teacher. Upon walking down the hallway, we were greeted by a warm and smiling Mrs. Parker. We walked into her classroom where she had a mirror with positive affirmations all around it. Words like: “I am Brave”, “I am a Leader”, “I am Strong”, “I am Empowered”. Emily’s classroom was like something out of a movie! She had a room of tables and at each table were different styles of chairs. Some chairs were yoga balls, some were stools, some were regular chairs with specialized padding and the list goes on. Mrs. Parker had a cool fuzzy rug and the shelves were all lined with books of all different categories. She wanted the kids to view her room as fun and relaxing place to create a true learning environment.
As the year got underway, my child, for the first time, was so excited to go to school every day. She told me that she felt loved and safe with Mrs. Parker, which is so important for any child. But, I quickly realized that nearly every student felt this way about Mrs. Parker. Emily Parker quickly noticed which students in her class struggled and took them aside before school hours and worked with a small group, several days a week. This was in her own free time and not something that was mandated by the school. She worked one on one in small groups with struggling kids because she wanted to help them achieve. She is a true hallmark of a fantastic educator.
When the pandemic hit in Spring 2020 and all of the children went into distance learning, Emily was so encouraging to her students. You could feel her emotion through the online meetings. As a parent, I could see that she truly missed her classroom, her students, and her calling. My child still felt very loved and included by Mrs. Parker through distance learning. Emily Parker didn’t miss a step in the transition from classroom to online distance learning. She made online learning just as fun as she possibly could – giving hope to both students and parents. She kept in constant communication with parents to check in to see how the students were handling the transition. Emily Parker tends to place her student’s needs before her own. In addition to this, she continued with the small group tutoring for her students who needed it and all of this on her own time during the school year. Here is the kicker - she continued this small group tutoring all summer long after the school year ended. She would not accept any payment for her tutoring efforts and reiterated that she just wanted to help the children thrive. She is not only someone who children love and respect, but she is also a safe haven during these unprecedented times. Emily treats all of her students as if they were her own children. She has genuine care and concern for all of her students, former and current. When the pandemic hit, she brought an additional sense of normalcy to the children when they needed it most. She had a way of letting them know that everything was going to be okay. Emily Parker is a true example of what a teacher should strive to be.