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Photographer: Kerch Creative

It’s no secret that the once largely rural community of McCordsville is going through explosive growth and development. Enrollment at the community’s schools has steadily increased, and the trend reflects the growth is on pace to continue. Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation is taking a proactive approach to address the situation by naming a new superintendent who is poised to lead the district through the new era.

The Board of Directors recently named Dr. Jack Parker, formerly of Center Grove Community School Corporation, as their pick for the new Superintendent. Dr. Parker earned his master’s degree in Education Administration from Butler University and a Ph.D. in Education Administration from Indiana State University.

Dr. Parker’s most recent role with Center Grove was Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning in which he served six years. In all, his 30-year history in education includes time as a Middle School Vice Principal and Principal and two years as the associate director of the Indiana Principal Leadership Academy. He also taught curriculum and school improvement as an adjunct professor at the University of Indianapolis for its master’s program.

His impressive credentials caught the eye of the Board of Trustees, and when they took a closer look at Parker, they found so much more. Dr. Parker spent plenty of time in the trenches as an educator, kicking off his career in 1989 as a band teacher.

Dr. Parker’s connection to the classrooms sets him apart from other leaders. Even though it’s been a while since he’s been in a teaching role, he makes it a priority to maintain his connection to the classrooms and stay in touch with the issues and challenges facing teachers and students.

He spent time this past year teaching in a Kindergarten classroom.

“I still want to interact with students and teachers,” he says. “I love what I do. Teaching is at my core. I was put on this earth to teach others to learn and grow. Even though my job doesn’t give me the opportunity to have direct daily interaction in the classrooms, I can stay connected by visiting them regularly and I can positively impact what happens there.”

Parker made a strong impact throughout his tenure at Center Grove. He was named the 2013 and 2009 District 9 Middle School Principal of the Year, leading the school to be the state’s first to achieve a “Highly Functional” rating on all seven standards assessed by AdvancED. Under his leadership, the district’s ISTEP ranking improved from No. 40 in the state in 2014 to  No. 11 in 2017, and the school received a National Blue Ribbon nomination.

As impressed as the School Board was with his experience, their priority was to choose a leader who was the answer to the elephant in the room — who is going to lead Mt. Vernon Schools through the ups and downs of rapidly growing enrollment in a community hit by urban sprawl?

Once again, Dr. Parker was the answer. Parker’s tenure with Center Grove Schools since the 1980s gave him hands-on experience of working in a district that was exploding with new families, subdivisions, shopping centers and more students.

With all those successes at Center Grove, it’s hard to imagine Dr. Parker leaving the school system. But he still had another goal to check off the list.

“I always wanted to become a superintendent,” he says. “When I saw the job opening, I was immediately interested because of the school system’s reputation. They’re already growing so rapidly, working to become STEM certified and they’re already certified with a one-to-one ratio of digital computers per student. Not every school has that.”

Mt. Vernon’s district and board began their search last June. After reviewing the candidates, Mt. Vernon’s Board reached out to Dr. Parker in October to begin the interview process.

As fate would have it, he got the call while on vacation in Ireland. It was the day after Thanksgiving when he got the call.

“We were in Blarney, and I kissed the Blarney stone,” Dr. Parker says. “Right after that, I got the call from the Board offering me the job. I didn’t expect to get a call since it was Thanksgiving Break. But I’m glad I did, and it made my day.”

Dr. Parker made it official at a Board meeting in December and a welcome reception was held. Board of Trustees President Shannon Walls couldn’t be more delighted to welcome the new leader.

“We’re building a dream team that can take on the challenges of growth in our district, and Dr. Parker is the icing on the cake,” she says. “He’s a true team player who always collaborates with staff and the community. He’s a leader who teachers can look up to for guidance and as a mentor.”

Dr. Parker is looking forward to moving to a new community, and he’s anxious to face the district’s challenges head-on. Although a mid-year start seems unconventional, Parker is glad of the timeline.

“There are a lot of similarities between the two communities, and the differences are natural and expected,” he says. “What Mt. Vernon is going through right now is not unlike what I experienced with Center Grove. The mid-year start gives me time to learn and observe before I start making recommendations. I want to be part of developing systems and making plans for that significant growth. But I want to make sure my recommendations are in line with the purpose of the district. No one issue is more important to me than the next. Curriculum, school safety and transportation will all be top priorities for me.”

Dr. Parker’s official start date was January 7, 2019, and he started it at the transportation center riding the school bus and visiting each school.

Keep up on the latest Mt. Vernon happenings by visiting mvcsc.k12.in.us.

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