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Lynde Parker: Sumter County Schools’ Teacher of Year

AMERICUS — From an early age, Sumter Primary School Teacher of the Year Lynde Parker discovered the special magic of a public library.
“I found it amazing that I could go there and get as many books as I wanted for free,” she said. “Reading could take me places I otherwise could not visit.”
Years later, she struggled with a decision over whether to pursue a medical career or one  in education.
“My education advisor convinced me that I had a special gift that could really make a difference in the lives of children,” Parker said. “As I thought about teachers who had made a difference in my life, I decided teaching was what I was called to do. I was given a scholarship working with children and have never looked back.”
Her decision was affirmed recently when she was chosen the Sumter County Teacher of the Year. Parker will now enter a statewide competition for Teacher of the Year in Georgia. If she wins that competition, she will be granted a year’s sabbatical and will travel around the state and the country representing Georgia schools.
“This honor has made me reflect over the many years of my career and remember all of the amazing educators who have helped me to become a better teacher,” said Parker on having won the award. “I have worked with some of the best and most caring people in the world. My life has also been touched by so many wonderful students that have made a difference in my life, and I hope that I made a difference in theirs.”
As Media Center specialist for the Primary School, Parker gets children when they are first learning the magic of words on the page. She does everything she can to utilize that opportunity in a variety of creative ways, from games to projects to special events.
“When studying the continents, I used green screen photography to replace the solid colored backgrounds with iconic landmarks,” she said. “Students were given pictures of themselves wearing berets in front of the Eiffel Tower, donning rice hats standing by the Great Wall of China, and sporting pith helmets in front of the Amazon Rain Forest.”
In addition, Parker has worked with teachers to make a digital movie on famous Georgians, and has used puppets and scavenger hunts to make books come alive.
“I make learning fun and relevant,” said Parker. “My reward is seeing the joy on children’s faces when they are successful and knowing that giving them the love of reading will have a huge impact on their future.”
Her unique ability to extend herself in such a creative manner was noted by her principal.
“Lynde Parker is an awesome Media specialist who strives to make a difference in children’s and fellow educators’ lives,” said Sharon Tullis. “She does an outstanding job with classes and students when they visit the Media Center for lessons and for checking out material.
“The Accelerated Reader parties she plans makes adults and children wish they made their goal — if they did not! Once you visit our Media Center, you may not want to leave! The environment is so kid-friendly! Oh! The places we will go with Lynde Parker!”
Parker was chosen from a group of seven teachers of the year, one from each of the schools in the system. This year, each of the teacher’s displayed a remarkably array of talents making judging particularly difficult.  Each teacher of the year filled out a special packet of information which was judged by a panel that consisted of retired educators from the Sumter County School System as well as instructors in the Education Department at Georgia Southwestern State University.
“Two things I can say about our school system: we’ve got great kids and we’ve got great teachers,” said Superintendent Donnie Smith. “Lynde does what we want all of our teachers to do: she thinks outside the box to find new ways to reach her students, and she cares very deeply for all of the students whose lives she touches.”