Parks Smith, a 2004 graduate of New Albany High School, is teaching tenth grade English at North Panola High in Sardis, Mississippi. Smith has a double major in History and English. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi in 2008 and will earn a Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction this spring.
Smith is a part of the Mississippi Teacher Corps (MTC), a teaching program designed to get recent college graduates from all over the country to teach in high needs areas of Mississippi. MTC is a two-year program that offers participants the opportunity to earn a master’s in education while teaching middle school or high school.
“I have always had a passion for history, mostly because my dad always did,” Smith said. “I grew up knowing a lot more history than most because he always told me stories about the Civil War and World War II.” Smith said he decided to major in history because he was not sure what he wanted to do with his life, so he decided to do something that he would enjoy.
“I did enjoy learning history at Ole Miss and became especially interested in the history of Mississippi and the South as a whole,” said Smith. He continued, “My interest in the state of Mississippi was part of what led me to join the Mississippi Teacher Corps.”
Wanting the opportunity to help the state Mississippi and to experience areas of the state that he was not especially knowledgeable is what attracted Smith to the MTC program. “Teacher Corps has given me that opportunity and has also allowed me to meet a lot of interesting people from all over the country.”
Smith was very generous with complimenting the New Albany School District with his interest in history and his success in college. He noted that he enjoyed his Mississippi Studies, World History, and Advanced Placement United States History Classes because they continued to spark his interest in history. Smith added that he was appreciative of the Journalism class and his advisors for giving him the opportunity to be creative.
He also noted that the English classes he took at New Albany High School prepared him for college level classes and was grateful to several of his high school English teachers. “Those classes were especially helpful to me when I attended college as I knew how to construct an essay and write a research paper.”
“Parks, a natural in front of the camera as well as an excellent writer for the Maroon and White, was willing to put in the extra time and effort it took to meet deadlines,” said Kelly Coltharp, who served as Smith’s Journalism advisor. “That hard working attitude is serving him well in his career now. I am proud of his decision to make a difference in lives of hard to teach students through Mississippi Teacher Corps. He teaches all day in one of the poorest areas of the state while working on his master’s degree in education after hours.”
Smith is grateful for not only the school district from which he graduated but also the community he grew up in. “From my observations of other schools around the state I know that I am very lucky to have graduated from a place like New Albany High School.” Smith continued, “I realize how important it is for the people of New Albany to continue to support public education. The quality of a community completely depends upon the quality of its public education.”