Dann Parker Retires, Reflects on Extensive Teaching Career

In Room 230, a colorful assortment of ties is growing each day.

After 13 years at Shaker, social studies teacher Dann Parker has decided to retire.

Parker has taught Global Studies, American Experience, AP U.S. History and AP European History at Shaker. In his 40 years of teaching, he has taught subjects “from Southwest Cultures to geography.”

Parker said that he enjoyed challenge of teaching classes such as APUSH. While his favorite classes differed throughout the years, in the long run, he liked teaching classes that give him the opportunity to talk to students and “study the subject in depth at a higher level than usual for high school.”

This year, Parker teaches the IB European Seminar and APUSH.

Sophomore Morgan Kiener is in Parker’s APUSH class. She likes Parker’s approach. “We have a lot more discussions than the other classes. We learn verbally rather than visibly,” she said. “Mr. Parker is a compassionate teacher, and you can tell he loves his job.”

Sophomore Laura Hundert also enjoys Parker’s class. “I think I am learning APUSH in a more ‘college’ way than my other classes,” she said. “Because we don’t really have busy work, so I actually feel like I am learning more. I also love that I get to be informed about what’s going on in politics today. Also, we have lots of discussions about history about how [what we learn and the present day] relates in some way, which is very interesting and fun to talk about.”

Senior Markie Anderle has had Parker for APUSH, AP European History, and IB Europe and Asian. “I feel like Mr. Parker’s class gives me a unique perspective on the material we are learning. We are taught to question information and come up with our own conclusions,” Anderle said. “While I’m sad other students won’t get the same three-year experience I had, I am happy for Mr. Parker that he finally feels like he can retire and end his teaching career on a positive note.”

Parker said that he first retired in 1998, when he was teaching in New Mexico. “I made a commitment with my wife that when I came back here to Shaker Heights, we would each teach a few years,” he said. “We made the promise to a colleague that we’d be smiling, healthy and satisfied. It’s not that the satisfaction is going away; I just felt this was a good time to leave.”

Parker told his classes about his plans, but students agree that Parker’s pending retirement hasn’t affected his teaching.

“I don’t really think he has changed the way he teaches,” said Hundert, “But he always seems happy, which is good.”

Anderle agreed. “I do think that he appreciates class even more knowing that this will be his final semester,” she said.

Other students stated that they love Parker and his neckties.

Parker has collected many and decided to wear one each day until he retires. Since announcing his retirement, Parker has been removing his ties at the end of the day and hanging them on his projector screen housing in the classroom. “I have 60 or 70 ties – certainly enough to go from here to the end of the end of the year without difficulty,” Parker said.

He also wishes his students would support him on his last day. “I’d love if my seniors, or anyone, could wear one of my ties on my last day of school here,” Parker said.

Parker loves the feeling of community in Shaker. “It’s been an honor to be here . . . This staff is unbelievably talented and professional. The time I first interviewed here, I saw the mission of the school – ‘a community is known by the school it keeps’ – and I’m so proud to be part of somewhere that lives up to the mission.”

Years later, Parker said that he can still look back at his time at Shaker with satisfaction. “I still think this is a wonderful school . . . But it’s time to go.”

 A version of this article appeared in print on 20 March 2012, on page 10 of The Shakerite.

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