School decorations lie mostly in boxes, but some posters of presidents and student projects clutter tables in Randy Parsons’ history classroom.
The bare walls and the few juniors sitting in his class to take their final exams are both signs of the end of the school year and Parsons’ first full year of teaching.
“I love it,” Parson’s said before passing out his final Advanced Placement history test for the year. “I love teaching, it is terrific.”
He was one of 563 teachers closing out the school year Friday by wrapping up lessons for 8,022 students in the Copperas Cove Independent School District.
Parsons earned one of 14 Teacher of the Year awards, the district announced Friday.
“When that child comes up to me at the end of the year and says ‘thanks’ that is, wow, that is all you need to get you through the years,” Parsons said.
Parsons completed his student teaching at Copperas Cove High School after retiring from the Army, and substituted as a history and social studies teacher for a year after that before getting a full-time classroom. This year he taught U.S. history, world history and AP U.S. history.
The full year of teaching taught him several things, including that time management isn’t as easy as it sounds and teachers should always have a backup plan.
“The classroom is the smallest portion of the work you do,” he said.
For every hour spent teaching, he spends another two hours preparing.
But all the work is worth it, he said. Nothing compares to being part of students’ lives, and helping them learn and obtain knowledge.
Parsons said something he won’t forget about this year is one student’s struggle in his AP class. When she was about to withdraw from the course, he encouraged her to stay. She stayed and passed the class.
“You get to see kids do things they didn’t think they could do,” Parsons said. “Those are the moments we live for.”
Students taking pride in their work was another triumph Parsons experienced this year.
His AP students wrote several essays that the class published in their own history book. After it was printed, students carried the book through the halls to show their articles to friends.
“A really big goal for a teacher is for students to be interested in their learning,” he said.
No matter how many years go by, Parsons will not forget why he started teaching, he said, and that, along with the students, will continue to drive his educational career.
“As a young kid, I had a teacher who really inspired me, and I thought that it would be so great to be that person in front of other people, and now I am,” he said.
“Knowledge that is not passed on is wasted knowledge,” he added, quoting a friend. “If you help a child succeed in life... then that is a good thing.”
With bare walls and boxes full of decorative materials, Parsons knew he’d have a new classroom when he returns in August.
“I will miss all my kids over the summer,” he said.