New Northeast Elementary principal: 'I'm still a teacher at heart'

New Northeast Elementary principal: 'I'm still a teacher at heart'

Prior to welcoming Northeast Elementary Magnet School's 301 K-6 students on their first day of school on Tuesday, new Principal Markesha Parker (Danville High '99) answered questions for The News-Gazette.

My introduction to education as a possible career came when ... I had a third-grade teacher, Miss Shane. She was amazing. I knew I wanted to be a teacher — just like her.

After teaching for nine years and earning two master's degrees, my plan was to ... continue teaching third grade. After I got my (second) master's (in educational leadership from Eastern Illinois), there were some administrative openings. I decided to interview to see what that process was like ... and I was offered a job (as a DHS assistant principal).

Apparently, (Principal) Kim Norton saw something in me that I didn't see at the time. One of the things I'm very appreciative of is she knows how to grow leaders. She tapped into my strengths and helped me see things about myself that I didn't necessarily see. I also thought it was cool to go back to the high school I graduated from and give back.

What drew me to this job was ... my oldest son attended Northeast, so I was a Northeast parent. It's a great school because of the teachers, who do what they do day in and day out. At the end of the day, I'm still a teacher at heart. I don't ever want to forget what it's like to be in the trenches.

As far as top 2018-19 priorities go ... our district is shifting to AVID districtwide, so we'll continue to work on that program. We want to provide kids with differentiated instruction, meeting them where they are, and provide more enrichment opportunities to those who are ready to move. We'll also be working to meet students' social and emotional needs, so that they are equipped to learn.

In my new office, you'll find ... lots of pictures of my family. I have two sons and four bonus children. (Husband Travis) and I have an amazing, blended family. I also have a lot of motivational quotes on my wall to remind me that every day is a new day to get it right.

One thing the kids will learn about me is ... that I love this community. Hopefully, they'll see me out and about. Some of the kids already know this: (Veteran teacher Kathy) Caston is my aunt. The kids think it's cool that I get to work with my aunt during my first year as principal and her last year of teaching before she retires.

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