After a career as an educator spanning almost four decades and nearly all that time as either Teacher or Principal at DeKalb West School, Danny Parkerson is retiring. But come next month, Parkerson will have a new assignment, school board member.
Parkerson will be representing the first district, taking over the position being vacated by John David Foutch who decided against seeking another term on the school board this year. "I hope I can give the school board my experience having been a teacher and principal and help them see things from that point of view," said Parkerson in an interview with WJLE last week.
Parkerson is hoping to remain principal until his first school board meeting, September 11.
Born and raised in Alexandria, Parkerson has called DeKalb County home all his life. After high school graduation, he furthered his education at MTSU and Tennessee Tech. "I attended MTSU from 1969 to 1972. I got my Masters and Ed.S degree from Tennessee Tech. I even took a three hour course at TSU," said Parkerson.
His first teaching job was in Smith County. " I started out for two years at Forks River in Smith County. I came to DeKalb West in the 1978-79 year," he said. While his background is in science, Parkerson said he enjoyed teaching a variety of subjects, especially math.
After joining the staff at DWS, Parkerson became the girls basketball coach and later took on the boy's program as well. "I started out with Tommy Alexander. He was the boy's coach and I was the girls coach. After Tommy left, I took over the boy's program until I became principal. I've stayed out of coaching mostly since then but I have helped a couple of times when we've been in between coaches," said Parkerson.
During his eighteen year career as basketball coach, Parkerson guided several teams to winning seasons including championships at the James C. Haile State Invitational Tournament held annually in Murfreesboro. " The 1992 season was probably the best boy's team I ever had. It was a complete team. We had depth. We won about every tournament we went to that year," he said.
When former DWS principal Eddie Hobson stepped down in the mid 1990's, Parkerson got the call to succeed him. Now in his 19th year, Parkerson said being principal at DWS has been rewarding and a job he has thoroughly enjoyed. While he is comfortable with his decision to retire, Parkerson said he will miss being at the school every day. "You get to a point in life that you know it's time. I'm feeling pretty comfortable about it being time. I know I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss the kids. I'll miss the school. I may get a little emotional. I love the West School. As an educator we sometimes forget who we work for. We work for the public. I would like to thank everybody in DeKalb County for supporting DeKalb West and for giving me a job that has lasted a lifetime," he said.
Since groundbreaking last year, Parkerson has been looking forward to the completion of the new building addition at DWS and is happy to see it being finished before he steps down. "This will meet the majority of the needs at DeKalb West School for the next twenty five years at least. You'll have to come and see it," he said.
An open house for the public is expected to be held soon.
While Parkerson has enjoyed being an educator, he also finds satisfaction in serving his community in the public arena. His election to the school board is just his latest venture into politics. Parkerson served two stints as Mayor of Alexandria from 1985 through 1989 and from 1993 until 1997. He was also a member of the county commission from the first district several years ago. "People should serve their community. The reason I ran for the county commission is because I wanted to see how the county operated and learn a little bit more about county politics and what the county commission did. But If you want to learn about government, small town is the way to go (referring to his terms as mayor). I'm now looking forward to the challenge of working with the gentlemen that serve their districts on the school board and learning what the community wants and try to get a plan to facilitate it," Parkerson said.
As he leaves as Principal, Parkerson wishes his successor and all his fellow teachers continued success in the years ahead. " I appreciate all the teachers I've worked, shared , laughed, and cried with. We hold in our hands the most precious thing God has given a family, a child. I've heard some say it (teaching) is a calling. I give God credit. When you're going forward you may not see God's hand in it but as you start looking back you can see God's hand in each step of your life. Where he showed you, sheltered you, and provided for you. I'm blessed with my students and my friends. It's just been a tremendous time," he said.
Anytime he is approached by a student at school or in the community, Parkerson is reminded of the influence that an educator can have on a young person. "I get a lot of recognition in the community, at the fair, and at school from kids who come up, say my name and hug me. The kids is what I'll miss the most. They keep you young and lively. I think the future for them is bright. When the final chapter is written and you go to face your maker and they put something on your tombstone, I'd rather be remembered as a teacher than anything else because a teacher is one of the most important persons in a child's life."
Danny and his wife Pat Parkerson reside in Alexandria. They have one daughter and son-in-law, Kelly and Jake Pyburn and a granddaughter, Marley Leigh Pyburn of Alexandria.