“It all began with a Subway sandwich,” laughed Courtney Sharp Parrish ’19, a current 4th-grade teacher at Berea Community Elementary School in Berea, Kentucky. Parrish first heard of Brevard College at a golf tournament she was volunteering at in high school. Brevard College’s golf coach fed the student-athletes Subway sandwiches while the other coaches handed out apples and granola bars. Parrish began her golfing career in elementary school and decided to play collegiate golf at that tournament. Thankfully, the Subway sandwiches were a factor in her decision to attend Brevard College.
Parrish credits several professors and staff members during her time at Brevard College for helping her grow into the young educator she is today. Dr. Betsy Burrows, Dr. Joshua Wilkey, and Dr. Brandon Smith are a few that come to mind who mentored and guided her to where she is today. Dr. Betsy Burrows, the Director of Teacher Education, directed Parrish to step outside her comfort zone. “Dr. Betsy Burrows made me the teacher I am today. She helped me find my teaching philosophy and helped me build my confidence in the classroom.”
While at BC, Parrish found her passion for teaching through the College’s experiential learning model. The education program at the College allows students to work in diverse environments, whether those environments are at schools or daycare centers. These credit hours doubled as volunteer experience and helped Parrish identify her teaching style and learning perspectives.
This volunteer experience followed Parrish after graduating from BC in 2019. When she isn’t teaching, you can find her helping with various after-school activities for her students. She was the track team coach and the Generation Electric Vehicle Leader this last school year. Parrish is passionate about the Generation Electric Vehicle Program at Berea Community Elementary School. This program teaches students how to build their own electric power race cars and compete with other schools. Parrish stepped out of her comfort zone to lead this new program, which resulted in the group finishing 11th out of 13 schools. Parrish was incredibly proud of her students and her leadership for this being the program’s first year. Parrish hopes to create a middle school golf team alongside her other volunteer initiatives in the coming years.
When asked what her favorite memory was during her time at Brevard College, Parrish explained that it was her very last day of student teaching her senior year. Parrish stated that her students bombarded her with gifts and letters, and one note read, “please come back; we want you to be our teacher.” After this, Parrish knew she was in the right profession.
With schools starting to open and Brevard College classes starting, Parrish understands how nerve-racking it can be to begin your first year of teaching. “To any fellow BC alum starting their first year of teaching, please know to take each day at a time. Every day is a new day, and know you’re making a difference. And for any current BC students in the education program, try as many new experiences as possible. Take those risks, even if you aren’t confident in whatever that may be.”
Thanks to Parrish’s work as a frontline worker these past three years, she will be honored with other Brevard College alums who are frontline workers at the 2022 Awards Ceremony on Saturday, October 8 at 9:30 a.m. in The Paul Porter Center for the Performing Arts. Make sure to register to attend the ceremony at brevard.edu/homecoming.