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Hamilton Parks

Mauldin Elementary School


1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?


I am an assistant administrator in a 970-student elementary school. No two days ever look the same for me! I usually begin the morning greeting students at the buses and monitoring the cafeteria where all of our students can receive free breakfast. Once the day starts, I am visiting classrooms and students, helping them be successful. I also make sure that I am encouraging teachers to provide engaging, rigorous lessons for students. I can often be found collaborating with our leadership team, or meeting with our special education support in order to ensure that all of our students are on track. I also talk and meet with parents throughout the day, ensuring them that their children have every opportunity to do their best in a safe and supportive environment. As the administrative liaison with the PTA board, I work very closely with our active PTA to make sure that their efforts are aligned with the goals of the school. At dismissal, I can be found in the bus loop making sure that our children load buses safely and make it to their next destination smoothly. Once the students are gone, I am continuously working with our administrative team, teachers, and parents to ensure that needs have been addressed so that students can return to school the next day prepared to see success.


2.)  What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?


With education, potential becomes power.

3.) Why did you become an educator?


I became an educator because I feel it is the one way that I can help change the world. By pouring into young minds, we can create incredible solutions to many of humanity’s problems. I’d like to think that every child I come in contact with has the potential to do something amazing, and I can be a tremendous part in helping that potential come to life!   

4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?


As a SCASCD Emerging Leader, I truly hope to empower teachers to realize their greatness and maximize on the remarkable ability that they have to change kids’ lives and make a difference. The students that we come in contact with on a day-to-day basis have the entire world in front of them, and spending each school day with them provides us an opportunity to pour so much into their existence. We have to power to end world hunger, find a cure for cancer, and create world peace—we just have to impart the knowledge and light the fire in our students. Creating a love of learning and a passion for success begins with us, and I hope to really help teachers acknowledge that within themselves. In order to do this, teachers need to be celebrated and poured into: they need resources, tools, professional development, high fives, and pats on the back to invigorate them to invest in themselves and their students for the sake of the whole world.


5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?


The one type of professional development that has made the biggest difference in my career has been EdCamp. During my time as an instructional coach, I found that professional development was the most paramount way to keep abreast of the best teaching practices our profession has to offer, and also the best way to share them with others. For me, EdCamp has truly been the granddaddy of PD! I have been able to network with vibrant educators all over the state, learning about tools, procedures, and initiatives that are pertinent to me, my school, my teachers, and my students. This model of professional development also provides me with the opportunity to share my own successes with instructional tools and strategies, so that I can in turn help foster exploration, innovation, and a growth mindset within my peers. Through the simple model of EdCamp PD, I have stumbled upon books, software, technology, and impressive practices that not only bring ease to delivering instruction, but engagement to students and efficiency to serving varied stakeholders.



6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.   


I believe that the pivotal moment when I realized my career choice in education was the correct one was at the start of my second year teaching. I had a trying first year, but when my students and parents would stop by my classroom and remind me of all the things they learned and remembered, I knew that I was making a difference. There were many of them who would remind me of songs that I had taught or stories that I had told that provided a foundation for the learning that they had to remember and build upon in the next grade. Knowing that I had placed a figurative brick in their building of knowledge ensured me that I was reaching children, making a difference, and had truly made the correct choice in choosing education as a career.


7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?


If I could make one major change in education, it would be to show appreciation to educators. This is not as simple as it sounds, but it actually has many facets. I believe that not only should business professionals, politicians, and parents acknowledge the hours of effort and mindful care that we put into our jobs, but that it would be rewarded with equal compensation. Educators should truly be paid their worth. Also, administrators and district officials should boldly, intentionally appreciate their teachers when it comes to the knowledge and creativity they bring to their classrooms. Innovation and new ideas should be celebrated and welcomed in every classroom and in every school. Teachers should have the autonomy to use methods that align with students’ interests and strengths in order to help them reach the achievement that each of them has waiting within them. Finally, teachers should be able to celebrate themselves with opportunities to lead, share, lift each other up, and help each other grow. If we as educators truly stood together in our efforts to reach all of our students, the opportunities for them would be boundless. We owe it not just to ourselves, but most definitely to our students.

8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?


My most rewarding experience as an educator was being a part of the A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School of Engineering family as a 2017 Palmetto’s Finest Finalist school. Words cannot express the pride I had standing with the students, parents, teachers, and administrators as we showcased the amazing program that we presented to the state that year. From the beginning of the application process, teachers were 100% behind the efforts of displaying our world class engineering curriculum and project-based approach that engaged students not only in the classroom, but through extracurricular efforts as well. Our school, which served an incredibly diverse population, representative of the low wealth neighborhood surrounding it and the rest of Greenville County, was able to boast outstanding student achievement as well as award winning teams, clubs, and programs. We did all of this while maintaining an exciting and thriving school culture with elements implemented from the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, GA. Our students loved coming to school every day, and if you asked them why or what they were learning in class, they could articulately and proudly tell you. It was a tremendous feeling being a part of that outstanding team, and it taught me what it takes to create a learning environment where everyone involved was willing to put forth their best to bring about lasting and life-altering knowledge in the hearts and minds of children.

Eight Questions For SCASCD Emerging Leaders

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