Brian Boozer was selected at Jacksonville High School and Beverly LaShall Parker at Kitty Stone Elementary.
Both teachers knew from an early age that they wanted to teach, but both came into the teaching field in a round about way.
Boozer, who teaches 10th grade English, to include three pre-AP and three college prep classes, has been teaching at Jacksonville High School for only two years.
A 1995 graduate of Hokes Bluff High School, Boozer had football, baseball and six-drama scholarship offers to choose from. The multi-talented student chose drama, since, as he tells it, “I was tired of getting beat up on the football field and my batting average my senior year wasn’t as high as I wanted it to be.”
While at Hokes Bluff, Boozer, who was the starting quarterback, also excelled on the baseball field setting state records at second base for most double plays turned in a game and most double plays turned in a season.
Boozer elected to go to Gadsden State and JSU for a year then quit college altogether to pursue an acting career.
Moving to Atlanta, Boozer made some movies, commercials, industrial films and acted in plays. After a couple of years he moved back, got married, finished his drama degree then moved back to Atlanta for an additional nine years.
As a professional actor in Atlanta Boozer ended up with four major movie credits to include, “Remember the Titans” and “Bobby Jones; A Stroke of Genius” a movie that allowed Boozer and his wife Jennifer, to participate in the premier of the movie and walk the red carpet.
In addition to the movies Boozer made about 30 commercials, participated in a lot of plays and also taught acting classes and after-school drama for K-5 for four years.
Soon the acting opportunities in Atlanta began to dry up and Boozer moved back to Alabama again, got his fifth year alternative degree from JSU and began his teaching career at Munford High School. “Teaching was the original plan in the beginning,” said Boozer. “When I was going through high school I wanted to coach and teach history.”
A sports enthusiast, Boozer said that he has always had love for sports and always will but his passion for coaching just wasn’t there so he left Munford to come to JHS to teach.
Among the rewards of teaching Boozer says, “to see the light bulb come on” is at the top of his list. His also loves to see his students excel. “To be able to take them to that next level,” is another aspect of teaching that Boozer finds rewarding.
To be a good teacher Boozer feels that there is a very delicate balance between being friendly towards your students yet gaining their respect as a teacher and as the authority figure in the classroom.
The way that Boozer teaches and his accomplishments has not gone unnoticed by his peers, as it is the faculty at the schools that select the Teacher of the Year.
Mike Newell, Principal of Jacksonville High School said of Boozer, “Mr. Boozer’s background as a professional actor has given him the unique ability to engage, and sometimes entertain, a wide range of students.
“His successful experience in high school football and baseball coupled with his flair for drama allows him to connect with artistic and athletic students alike.
“Tenth grade English comes alive with Mr. Boozer’s presentations. His incredible sense of humor keeps his students laughing and learning. But most of all he genuinely cares for his students and he wants them to be successful.”
Boozer says being named Teacher of the Year is a huge honor especially since it was nominated by the faculty. “To even be nominated I thought was huge; the fact that I won it totally blindsided me.”
While Boozer has been teaching altogether for only three years, the Teacher of the Year at Kitty Stone Elementary, Beverly LaShall Parker, is a veteran teacher of 17 years.
Like Boozer, Parker got into the field of education in a roundabout way. Parker grew up in Jacksonville as Beverly Parris and attended the Jacksonville City Schools from grades 1-12.
While in school Parker knew that she wanted to be a teacher but upon graduating from high school she kept hearing that the teaching profession was full and that maybe she should make another choice.
Parker went to work at a law firm and worked there for many years until her youngest child started school. Parker went back to school still working at the law firm at nights, to finish her degree in education.
Parker felt that she had the best of both worlds, “I enjoyed working part-time until the kids were both in school (daughter Andrea and son Mark) so I got spend a lot of time with them.”
Getting back into the field she had always thought of working in was a dream come true. “I had always planned on elementary education,” said Parker. “I just love kids. I taught children’s church for five years and it got my flame burning to teach.”
Another dream that Parker had was not only to teach but to teach at Kitty Stone Elementary where she had gone to school. Parker was hired and has taught fourth grade at the school for 17 years.
Parker says that the teachers in the fourth grade make teaching wonderful. “Everyone supports each other, we work together and they make my job special. They make my job easier; that way I can focus on the teaching.”
In the 17 years of teaching Parker has seen a lot of changes, the most notable being in the field of technology. “When I first started teaching in 1996 there wasn’t even a computer in the classroom,” said Parker. “I wrote a grant to Alabama Power and won a $2,000 grant so we were able to get a computer, a TV and a VCR. The smart board and projector have added a lot to the classroom learning but I’m excited about the coming of the Ipads.”
Parker also finds that one of the biggest rewards of teaching is knowing that you are helping the students. “When you see that light come on and you know they have gotten that concept that you taught, or when they run up to you at Wal-Mart, they make you feel special. The children themselves…they are all special; I love them all.”
This is the second time that Parker has been honored as Teacher of the Year having won the award in 2000. “It’s exciting and very special to know that people I work with think enough of me … anytime you are nominated by your peers it’s quite an honor, especially at Jacksonville City Schools because there are so many special teachers here,” said Parker.
Christy Hamilton, Principal of Kitty Stone Elementary remarked, “Mrs. Parker if one of the most outstanding teachers I have observed in my twenty plus years as an educator.
“She is a true team player…always assisting teachers in any way possible, always volunteering to help our school be successful and always seeking professional development opportunities for not only herself but the faculty as well.
“Beverly is a “go getter. If you ask her to do something she is not going to let up until it is done and done correctly. She is extremely knowledgeable and is well respected by the other teachers in the school and other administrators throughout our system.”
Hamilton said that she could go on and on about Parker’s teaching abilities and how she excels but felt the most important thing about Parker was, “How she excels at possessing the qualities and attributes that make her the person she is. She is always willing to give of herself, no matter what the cost.”