Whether coaching young athletes on the track, building homes in Guatemala on mission trips, or dissecting in the classroom, you’re bound to find seventh grade science teacher Chase Parks pursuing the highest degree of excellence and service. While his classroom is known for its rigor and high standards, it’s also known for Mr. Parks’ commitment to his student’s success.
Ask anyone around school and they’ll say that Mr. Parks is a remarkable educator. As a teacher, coach, and mentor, he has spent the last seven years devoting himself to the learning process, making it relatable and enjoyable for each and every student.
“Chase Parks is the consummate professional! He’s well-loved and highly respected, not only by his students and parents, but by his colleagues as well. He’s highly intelligent, a collaborator, and an innovator. He truly loves teaching his subject matter, and therefore, his students love learning science! He’s a leader in the GAC science community and is always thinking about ways to do things better. Not only does he serve well in the classroom, but he’s serves well outside of the class too – leading mission trips and coaching track and cross-country. GAC is better because of Mr. Parks!” said Middle School Academic Dean Lauren Hollier.
To learn more about Mr. Parks, read through the Q&A below:
Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
I’m from Dacula in Gwinnett County. I went to Dacula High School and then pursued my undergrad at the University of Georgia.
What did you study in college?
Fisheries and Wildlife Biology
What motivated you to go into education?
I took an upper level wildlife biology course in college where, as part of a culminating project, we had to do a public outreach and go into public schools and teach. This was my first real opportunity to get up and teach, and I immediately thought it was the greatest thing ever.
After doing it one time, I thought it was awesome. I loved it. I got to combine something I was passionate about and share it with other people. It was a really nice fit personally and professionally.
This class served as motivation to pursue an advanced degree in education after undergrad.
Did you ever imagine you would find yourself in teaching?
I’ve always loved learning and was inspired by great teachers I had growing up. But for a while in college my goal was to be a wildlife researcher or work for the national parks service.
What do you love about education?
I’ve always valued learning from a young age. I’m a curious person, and I enjoy researching topics that I find fascinating but know nothing about. And with that, I love presenting things to other people to help them understand. Also, I find that I can apply science is so applicable to everyday life, which makes it all the more fascinating to me.
The lightbulb moment with students is something that is truly tremendous. When you see someone comprehend something for the first time, it’s amazing.
How do you connect with students?
Besides intangible qualities, I believe that knowing how to understand and relate information to students is incredibly important. What are they interested in? What they might be interested in?
How do I relate that to what we’re talking about so that know there’s something that they’re intrinsically interested in to get them to understand the content.
It’s all about setting high standards, but letting students know that you’re on their team, you’re for them, and are present to help motivate, encourage and help them to succeed. When students know that their teachers feel that way it does a lot in terms of their own motivation.
What do you love most about 7th grade?
Middle school is an awesome time. It’s a unique transition in life and in terms of what they’re covering academically. They’ve got a lot of energy. They’re enthusiastic about learning and ask a lot of great questions.
What do you love most about coaching cross country and track?
I’ve been a runner for 17 years, and my high school coach had a major impact on me as a person and athlete. It was a motivating factor for me to go into coaching. He was relatable, present, and passionate about us reaching our goals. There was a standard and he expected a lot from us, but he was always there to encourage us along the way.
These are all qualities I hope to emulate and pass on to the athletes that I coach. I love getting to take something I’m so passionate about and help facilitate growth and cultivate a love of running in younger generations. It’s amazing to see the impact.
It’s been a really cool opportunity to be able to take lessons I learned from my high school coach, and pass them on to younger generations.
What drew you to GAC?
Initially, I had a mutual friend connect me with one of the teachers, Joe Edlhuber. When we got together, he shared his experience, and I was immediately interested. He invited me to reach out to the principal, which led to an in-person interview.
From the moment I stepped onto the campus, I knew there was something special at GAC. From the people who greet you, to the facilities, to the administration. It was unique.
There is a goal to excel in all things, and a true mission of providing a great experience for every single student on campus. GAC pursues excellence in everything they do, which I felt aligned well with my personal philosophy for life and teaching.
Also, there is a focus on Christ and character that was extremely evident when I first arrived here. I loved it.
How does GAC provide professional development for teachers?
GAC has a lot of job embedded professional development opportunities that the staff and faculty go through here. I’m back at school again at UGA getting my specialist, which GAC helps me with.
I’ll graduate this May with the Specialist in Science Education. It’s a really cool opportunity to develop within my career, go to graduate school and develop professionally that way.
What would you tell a younger student who is preparing to be in 7th grade or your class one day?
Enthusiasm. Motivation. Creativity. All of those kinds of things. Just being excited to learn and willing to pour yourself into the learning process.
How would you describe the culture at GAC?
There’s no place like it. It’s very unique. It’s extremely community-oriented. I’ll speak for myself, although I feel the other teachers would agree, I feel like I’m a part of multiple communities here. There’s a family feel when you come here. Even from my first moment on campus, I felt the difference.
Where would someone find you outside of the classroom?
If I’m not in the classroom, I’m somewhere outside or around the world. I move around a lot and do a lot of physical activities. I’m most likely around a track somewhere running. I also enjoy mountain biking, climbing, camping, and backpacking.
If I’m not doing that, I’m typically reading.
What is a book you’ve read recently?
Prayer by Tim Keller
What are you listening to right now?
“Not in a Hurry,” by United Pursuit
What’s one thing that’s still on your bucket list?
Two things immediately come to mind. One is that I think rocking chairs are pretty great. And, I really want to build one someday.
Second, I want to drive across the country on a motorcycle.