By Mike McClure

This year’s Laurel School District Teacher of the Year, Lindsay Parsons, is a Laurel High graduate who enjoys living and teaching in the same town she grew up in. Parsons, a Pre-K teacher at North Laurel Learning Academy, followed in the footsteps of her mom and aunts by working in education.

“It’s certainly an honor to represent our school district,” said Parsons, who added that there were a lot of qualified, experienced candidates for the teacher of the year honors.

Laurel Teacher of the Year Lindsay Parsons, a Laurel graduate, is pictured (right) with her students at the North Laurel Learning Academy.

Parsons mentored in pre-school classrooms when she was in middle school and high school. When she entered college at the University of Delaware she wanted to try something different, but the school’s high quality Early Childhood Education program changed her mind.

“That program really brought me back into education,” Parsons said. “That’s kind of where my passion was.”

Parsons got a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Delaware. She is presently pursuing a Master’s degree in Special Education at UD.

Parsons followed aunts, Wendy Dolby and Tammy Steele, and her mother, Sharon Dolby, into education. Wendy Dolby is retired and Steele is a reading coach at the University of Delaware. Sharon Dolby, a guidance counselor, worked in the same school as Parsons for three years; Steele has worked in her niece’s classroom; and Parsons has taught her niece during her five years as a teacher.

“They (family) have been very helpful. They’re people I can go to for support,” said Parsons.

During her time mentoring as a high school student, Parsons gained a love for education. She also knew she wanted to come back to the area and teach.

“I knew that’s where I wanted to (come back and) teach,” Parsons said. A position opened in the district when she graduated from college and at the time she was the only Pre-K teacher at the school.

“There’s definitely been a lot of changes since I was in school. I just like giving back to the community,” said Parsons. “It’s a small town, everybody knows everybody.”

In addition to teaching her niece, Parsons has also taught some of her classmates’ kids. She also enjoys connecting with and meeting new families. While some teachers may not enjoy living in the same community where they work, Lindsay enjoys running into her students at the grocery store or at district events.

This year’s Laurel School District Teacher of the Year announcement had to take place virtually due to COVID-19. District representatives came to Parsons’ house with balloons and a car parade took place. She has also received cards and gifts from her fellow teachers.

“That was very surprising and very fun,” Parsons said. “We have a small school, so we’re pretty close knit there.”

Lindsay and her husband, Matt, got married last summer. She credits him with being understanding of “a teacher’s life”, which sometimes includes working on a computer at 10 p.m. (especially when virtual learning is required).

“It’s not easy being married to a teacher,” said Parsons. “He’s been very, very understanding and supportive.”

Like other teachers, Parsons is ready to return to the classroom with her students. She appreciates the support and involvement of the students’ families she has taught over the past five years.

“It’s been very challenging to not be in front of the kids and to hug them and talk to them every day,” she said. “We hope they are safe at home. We just worry about them, not being able to see them every day.”

The following are the Laurel School District Teachers and Support Staff Members of the Year for each building:

North Laurel Early Learning Academy- Teacher of the Year- Lindsay Parsons; Support Staff Member of the Year- Melissa Conaway

Laurel Elementary School- Teacher of the Year- Kathy Shockley; Support Staff Member of the Year- Gary Trout

Laurel Middle School- Teacher of the Year- Jamie Myers; Support Staff Member of the Year- Eric Teagle

Laurel High School- Teacher of the Year- Stacey Stump; Support Staff Member of the Year- Justin Saulsbury