The Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School and the Ten Common Principles have no doubt shaped me as a life-long learner and citizen in the world. So much so, in fact, that I have found it incredibly daunting to sit down and reflect. There are so many ways that my identity has been profoundly impacted by the six years I spent at Parker as a student and the three years I have served as a Trustee. Attempting to put it into words is to risk not doing it justice.
I think back fondly on my time as a student and I am grateful for many things: the opportunity to travel to Thailand with my peers, the feeling that my intelligence was in no way dependent on a test score, being able to eat lunch in the hallways, and running with Cross Country teammates who helped foster my love for the sport—just to name a few.
But what it really boils down to for me is the people. Parker has incredible teachers and staff: they are among the most intelligent, thoughtful, and selfless people on the planet. When Ted Sizer wrote that “…the tone of the school should explicitly and self-consciously stress values of unanxious expectation, of trust, and of decency (fairness, generosity, and tolerance),” he was onto something. I truly believe that it is this very culture that allows students and teachers at Parker to form bonds that transcend the classroom and graduation years.
The summer between seventh and eighth grade, I elected to read Tuesdays with Morrie as my summer reading book. There was one quote in particular that resonated with me, so I wrote it down on an index card:
Have you really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back.
Now, nearly 10 years later, that very index card still hangs by my desk to remind me of Parker and the incredible teachers, mentors, and friends that I was lucky enough to find.
About the author
Kayla Reeves graduated from the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens, Massachusetts in 2009. She currently serves on Parker’s Board of Trustees. She received her BA in Sociology and her Masters in Public Administration from Clark University. After spending a year working for a nonprofit, she now works at Fisher College in Boston in their Office of Career Services and as Adjunct Faculty.