Asbury University Educator of the Month: Lerin Parker

In many classrooms, mistakes are the enemy. Not so in Lerin Parker’s second grade class at Western Elementary in Georgetown, Ky. Mistakes, although not encouraged, are embraced as part of the learning process – what Parker and her colleagues call the growth mindset. Instead of discouraged students concluding that a lesson is too difficult for them (that’s a fixed mindset), students focus on ways to improve. Maybe they have to work harder or ask a friend or teacher for extra help. “The point is to build a positive attitude,” Parker said, “where students say to themselves, ‘This might be hard but someone believes in me and I can do this.’” Parker has been instilling confidence in children for 14 years – all at Western. A Scott County native, Parker lives a short drive from the school where her two daughters attend. A farm girl, Parker drove a tractor on her father’s tobacco farm and now lives on 17 acres with cattle and chickens. “I learned the value of hard work growing up on a farm,” Parker said. “And I want my children to appreciate nature.” At Western, Parker taught third grade for two years and then fourth-grade math for 10. She prefers second grade because she is with the same students all day. “I like it because of the relationships I can build with the kids and their families,” she said. “I feel connected to them by the time my students leave.” Parker has all the requisite attributes that excellent teachers posses. “She is high energy, very enthusiastic, flexible and adaptive to the needs of her students,” Principal Brent Allen said. “She finds creative ways tomeet students where they are and goes the extra mile to make sure they succeed. She embodies the growth mindset – always learning, growing and looking for ways to improve.” A Board Certified educator, Parker is fearless about trying new things. When the school started a robotics team, Parker assumed co-coaching duties despite a limited background in engineering. Back in the classroom, Parker emphasizes kindness. She asks students to identify it in themselves and to practice empathy and patience, qualities she models in the classroom. “We get everyone involved and talking,” she said, “They understand we’re not all the same and we learn differently.”