After more than thirty years as an educator, Joy Parker has retired from the school system. But while her teaching career may be over, Parker has no intention of slowing down.
She has already taken another job, working for attorney Gayla Hendrix as a secretary.
Parker's retirement as a teacher became effective last month and though excited about the new job, she has mixed emotions about leaving behind the one she's known for much of her life. "I always wanted to teach school. I loved that job. Its been a great job for me. It was way more emotional to leave it than I realized it might be. I'm very excited to do something new but it was kind of bittersweet to leave what I've loved for thirty years," she said.
A graduate of DeKalb County High School, Parker furthered her education at MTSU where she earned a BS degree with endorsements in elementary and special education. Soon after she landed a job with the local school system. "I graduated in December, 1981. I started as a substitute teacher and was later hired in the fall of 1982. I taught special education for fourteen years at DeKalb Middle School. I left there and went to Smithville Elementary to teach fourth grade. I did that for twelve years and in that process I moved to Northside. Four years ago I moved back to the Middle School where I started teaching special education again," said Parker.
Although she enjoyed being a regular classroom teacher, Parker said her first love was working with special education students. "The special education class that I taught is called the Comprehensive Development Class. Its often referred to as CDC. At that time when I started teaching, there was one CDC classroom in this county and that was at the Middle School. We had children from five and six years old all the way to twenty one. So when I started teaching school I had several students who were almost as old as I was. And then I had little bitty guys running around. I look back at that and they were great years. They are some of my best memories. The kids I've had over the years have truly influenced me a lot. And especially when you work with special ed students. Just to watch them day to day, they are very motivating. When you teach special ed, you have the same kids for several years in a row so you get really attached to those students. I got attached to fourth grade students I had for one year. But when you teach special ed you have that child for maybe three years. And years ago when I started, we had kids in that class for seven, eight, and nine years in a row. So by the time you work with a child for that long, you know every member of their family. You know everything about them and you get very attached," she said.
While she enjoyed her years as an educator, Parker said she is anxious to try something new. "I've gone to work for Hendrix Law Office. I'm learning how to be a secretary. I think its going to be fun. Gayla and I have been friends for years. We grew up together. Our fathers were friends in high school. Our families have been close. I think we'll have a big time. I'm looking forward to learning something new," said Parker.
Parker said she is thankful for the opportunity to have worked in the school system for so many years. "I really would like to thank Mr. Willoughby and Randy Jennings. They have given me a great send off and made me feel like they appreciated what I did. That's always a good feeling when you teach school. To feel like you've done something that benefitted kids and you helped out the school system," she concluded.