By Charly SHELTON
Terry Parker, after 42 years as an educator, attended his last promotion ceremony yesterday. It was a graduation not only for the Rosemont eighth graders moving on to high school, but for Parker it was moving on to retirement. At the morning ceremony, Parker received a diploma and the promoting students gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the stage.
“You know, it’s like, ‘You are going to retire’ and you think, ‘Yeah, I’m retiring,’ then today it’s, ‘Wow! I am retiring,’” Parker said.
Parker has taught across the state over the last 42 years. He got his start in San Diego at a Christian school in 1974 as a teacher. Then he moved up to the San Joaquin Valley for several years, employed as a teacher and administrator in Christian and public schools. He then came down to the Los Angeles area to Village Christian School in Sun Valley where he worked for eight years as an administrator and counselor. Then he arrived at Rosemont Middle School where he has, for the last 22 years, been a beloved woodshop teacher.
“It was a very rewarding time for me,” Parker said. “Working with kids is the most fun you can have.”
Rosemont Principal Dr. Cynthia Livingston echoed the sentiments of many about Parker’s leaving.
“Terry Parker changes kids lives. He is a man who teaches from his soul,” she said. “He takes all the students under his wing and loves each and every one of them as if they were his own.”
After so many years in education he said it is hard to say goodbye, but he is anxiously looking toward the future. The plan for his first year of retirement is for him and his wife to load their travel trailer and go see the country, what Parker calls “full timing it.” They will travel along the west coast and possibly into Texas. Beyond his first year, the plans are to just relax.
“I plan to go camping, I plan to play a little golf, maybe a little fishing, I plan to get more involved with my service organizations like the VFW and the American Legion,” Parker said. “And also to spend more volunteer time at our church.”
Being a coach and runner, he said he has to start his exercise regime again but is looking forward to just taking his time.
“I will not miss getting up at 5 o’clock every day,” Parker said, “but what I will miss are the friendships you develop with the kids and staff.”
Woodshop has been cut, along with other tech or shop classes, from many schools around the state and around the country. As far as this program at Rosemont goes, Livingston said they have found a new shop teacher for next year, but her heart will remain with Parker for some time.
“I could not do what I do without Terry Parker,” she said. “I will miss him terribly.”
Mary O’Keefe contributed to this story.