My name is Barbara Parent, and for the last fifteen years I have worked in a rural and remote high school on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, teaching English. I grew up in central Wisconsin in a family that cared deeply about education, and I knew from the time I was in elementary school that I wanted to be a teacher. Over the years, I had many wonderful teachers, especially in high school. The summer of my junior year, I went to Bombay, India on an AFS exchange program. While there, I spent several weeks spending most of my time with people who didn’t speak English at all, and that was intriguing to me. When I graduated from high school, I received a four-year education scholarship covering all of my tuition for the University of Wisconsin in Madison. My idea at the time? To become a Chemistry and French teacher.
Over the first year in college I gradually realized that the courses I enjoyed the most were my English courses. After four years, I graduated with a degree in Secondary Education, with a major in English and a minor in German. This proved to be a good combination in a state where German grandparents were in abundance. Without even sending my resume, I received my first interview for a combined position almost immediately, and I went to work in Cedarburg, WI, near Milwaukee.
The best thing about that job was working closely with two master teachers, gentlemen of the old school who were classically trained, but believed in humor in the classroom. Although I hadn’t had much experience with grammar in high school since sentence diagramming was considered passé, I learned a great deal of grammar in my linguistics and German classes in college. I remember that the fact that I knew what “verbals” were was decisive in my getting the job! The first year on staff, this twenty –two year old was asked to teach one section of “Rhetoric,” an honors English composition class for college-bound seniors which had always been taught by “Doc,” the one teacher on staff with his doctorate. I somehow survived!
After two years teaching, I returned to Madison, got married, then entered graduate school at the university at the same time as my husband.. After much thought, I had decided that I would like to get my certification in ESL and my masters in Curriculum and Instruction under the mentorship of one of my favorite professors, Dr. Constance Knop. I ended up doing my ESL student teaching at the high school my parents and my new mother-in-law had attended. The students I worked with were Southeast Asian, mostly Hmong. By coincidence, this was the same cultural group that my mother was now teaching ESL to in central Wisconsin. I worked as a regular English teacher at Waunakee High School and Middle School for two years, and then, with the birth of my two daughters, I stopped working in the public schools for several years.
We moved to Nashville TN in 1989, and when my daughters got close to elementary age, I took a job teaching English to international students at Vanderbilt University. This was a wonderful experience: the campus was lovely, the variety of students was fun and their motivation was exciting. I worked there for about two years and finally had my third child. We moved to Port Ludlow WA, about two hours from Seattle, in 1997.
When my son was about four years old, I was hired by Chimacum Schools as the Enrichment and Highly Capable Program Coordinator, a half time position. Two years later, a full-time English position opened up at the high school and I was hired. I taught English 9, English 10, Yearbook, and Film Studies for the last ten years in the high school. For the past several years I have begun teaching AP English, Springboard English, and French I and French II.
I enjoy teaching with my colleagues at Chimacum High School, and I believe that we offer a place to care about learning and care about each other.