BY KRISTA RAMSEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
There must be something in the water. Or maybe in the apples.
Reading Central Principal Sherry Parr
(Yoni Pozner photo)
| ZOOM |
In the last several years Greater Cincinnati has been pulling down a lot of hardware for having outstanding educators.
A national teacher of the year lives here. So does a state superintendent of the year, and an amazing number of Ohio principals of the year. Sherry Parr, principal of Reading Central Elementary, became the newest pearl added to the string this week.
There is no one more deserving.
Names, faces, Band-Aids
Mrs. Parr is so perfect for the role that someday a sharp toy manufacturer will use her as the model for a principal doll. The package will say: Smart. Dedicated. Hugely qualified. Professional. Compassionate. Child-centered. Energetic. Firm. Kind.
Sherry Parr's affection for children is legendary. Some principals pride themselves on knowing faces and names. Mrs. Parr knows moods, nicknames and the story behind the Band-Aid on the elbow.
She can speak to any educational topic with ease and expertise, handle any crisis, calm any situation, inspire any staff member. And -- I'm not kidding -- she's always in a good mood, and her hair looks great.
All of which is very nice, but not my reason for taking such particular joy in her selection.
That has to do with my friend Judy Wasson.
A success story returns
Thirty-seven years before Sherry Parr entered the front doors of Central Elementary, Judy Wasson walked through them, and would for the next 11 years of her life.
Miss Wasson's special education class was on the first floor. In it, she learned things that would serve her well through life. How to work hard, get along with others, speak thoughtfully and listen well.
Judy, who has Down Syndrome, became a Central Elementary success story.
As an adult she took a job at a workshop that hires people with dis- abilities. The workers move from site to site, doing a variety of jobs.
Last year, she was working on a job site and asked directions to the restroom. Walking back, she realized she could find her way on her own. Her work site was her old classroom, and the building was her own Central Elementary School.
She went home and told her mother, Eileen Wasson, who thought the Central principal, whoever she might be, would like to know an alumna was doing well in life.
She called the school. The secretary invited Mrs. Wasson to bring Judy in for a 15-minute visit.
When the two arrived, Sherry Parr greeted them in her exuberant way -- "Like, "Look who's here!,' " Mrs. Wasson remembers. Then she told them she had canceled two hours of appointments to give them a personal tour of the school.
They went all around the building, resting when Miss Wasson needed to rest, exchanging hugs when Miss Wasson felt like a hug. Mrs. Parr showed Miss Wasson off to her current students, stressing how much she, and all of them, could contribute in life.
When it was time for the Wassons to leave, Mrs. Parr insisted on a picture with them. For Judy, it remains a memento of one of life's happiest days.
Just plain classy
The Wassons don't live in Reading. They don't vote on Reading tax levies, attend school events or serve on school committees. Sherry Parr's interest in them had nothing to do with self-interest. It had everything to do with kindness, professionalism and class.
It's one of a string of thoughtful deeds that she has done without a second thought, things that never did, and were never meant to, show up on an award application.
Sherry Parr, Ohio principal of the year?
I knew it all along.
Krista Ramsey's column appears on Saturdays. Write her at the Enquirer, 312 Elm St. Cincinnati 45202.