What It Means To Be A Teacher: Wisdom from a Mentor, Dr. Gerald Parker

He comes in early in the morning to share a cup of coffee and meet new people. He is always smiling; the wrinkles behind his white whiskers leave a trail upwards. He is enthusiastic and kind; he loves to sit and just listen to people, but he usually has a word of advice to give them too. No one would know he ever struggled with education and reading; he went on to get a doctorate degree. He doesn’t claim to be of special importance, but he founded the first ABSPD Institute. Though he is retired, he comes out of retirement every summer to share with other younger instructors at Institute. He is a treasure of wisdom and experience. He is a man who had every excuse to be disgruntled in life but remains optimistic. He’s an inspiration. That’s who Dr. Gerald Parker is. Here’s what he said about teachers.

Who are WE? What are WE doing here? Where are we going?

In Soviet times, an old Rabbi was approached by a young man from the local militia. “Who are you? What are you doing here? Where are you going?”

The Rabbi responded, “How much do they pay you to ask those questions?”

“Two rubies a day,” was his proud reply.

“Each time you see me, I’ll pay you two rubies if you’ll keep asking me those questions.”

So–Who are WE? What are WE doing here? Where are we going?

We are gifts…

To the one who fears rejection — we show acceptance.

To the one who fears inadequacy — we guide step by step as their fears melt away.

To the one who feels disconnected — we build community.

To the one who feels lonely — we listen.

To the one who has experience failure — day by day, we celebrate success.

To the powerless — we give a pen and a voice.

To those who feel defective — we celebrate their uniqueness.

To those who feel worthless — they see reflected in our eyes — they are priceless.

To those who feel abandoned — we help reclaim as treasures.

Who are we? We are adult educators!

What are we doing here? We are making a difference that really matters!!

Who are we — roots on a tree, quiet and mostly unseen, giving life and nurture.

Who are we — air under the wings of a bird — lifting those who were caged to new heights.

Who are we — gifts — precious gifts of hope, fostering transformation of lives who will never be the same.

Who are we — bridges to expanding opportunities.

Who are we — high touch in a high-tech world.

Who are we — God’s instruments — giving “wings to caterpillars”

Who are we –blessed–far beyond what we deserve.

Where are we going? Intentionally pursuing what MATTERS!! Helping ourselves and others become more than we ever dreamed we could become!


More Wisdom from Dr. Parker

What if you could buy someone for what they think they are worth and resell them for what they are really worth? –Dr. Gerald Parker

Your fruit grows on other peoples’ trees. –Dr. Gerald Parker

The most effective professional development for me was becoming good friends with my students and finding out what worked for them, what didn’t, and how I could have done it better. –Dr. Gerald Parker

I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t teach me something. Ask people: “What are you really good at? How did you learn to do that?” –Dr. Gerald Parker

The best tutor I have ever had is the one that married me. –Dr. Gerald Parker

One person with passion can accomplish more than many with a mere interest in something. –Dr. Gerald Parker