This is part of a monthly “Why I Chose Education” series in which NC State College of Education alumni, students, faculty and staff share why they chose education.
As a young girl, Kerri Brown Parker was always excited about starting a new school year and couldn’t wait for summer break to be over. School was an opportunity for her to learn new things, take on new challenges and experiences, and discover new passions and interests. Throughout her life, she was always drawn to working with kids, having served as a babysitter and camp volunteer. And she’s always enjoyed being in the company of children, regardless of age. So, when she decided to pursue a career in education, it was the perfect fit for her.
For the past seven-and-a-half years, Brown Parker has served in the NC State College of Education Media and Education Technology Resource Center (METRC) — first as the instructional technology and literacy librarian before being named director in 2017.
As director of METRC, she provides instruction with METRC resources in literacy and digital innovation; selects, purchases and manages access to library collections; leads and collaborates in future-ready technology developments in the college; and partners and teaches with faculty in technology and literacy resources and instruction. Brown Parker also leads professional development and information learning sessions around technology and literacy resources and instruction, and manages METRC operations and staff.
When she isn’t working, Brown Parker enjoys cooking complicated meals and trying new ingredients, spending time with family, playing board and video games with family and friends and challenging her mom to a game of MahJongg. She likes reading a magazine somewhere outside, whether in a hammock, by the pool or in a lounge chair. She also enjoys reading books, traveling, bicycling, getting crafty and watching sci-fi shows.
Brown Parker shares why she chose education, how education has shaped her into the person she is today and what has inspired her during these unprecedented times.
Why I Chose Education: I was the oldest cousin, the older sister, the neighborhood babysitter, the YMCA camp volunteer … generally drawn to working with kids. I have always enjoyed being around kids from elementary age through high school and/or college. I truly like and respect them. I enjoy their spirit, optimism, passion and humor. I’ve also been told I’m patient, a good listener, and have a talent for reading people’s needs, so teaching was a good fit for me.
How Education Has Shaped Me: I was the kid who couldn’t wait to go to kindergarten and was always ready for summer break to be over. I had good teachers, bad teachers, happy experiences and miserable experiences. School held friends, challenges, new experiences, music, science, anxiety, pride, embarrassment and … everything. I feel like education shaped so many parts of who I am and will continue to be. It’s where I learned from other working moms how to be a parent as well as where I learned that demeaning someone for being “bad at math” has long lasting consequences for self-esteem and even career choices. My closest friends are teacher-friends because there are so many emotions and strong experiences that happen among people who are passionate and caring about their students. It’s truly bonding. Educational experiences as a student, teacher and parent have shaped … all of me.
What I Enjoy the Most About Being Part of the NC State College of Education: Feeling like I contribute to the learning of a broad group of our students and future teachers by working with them individually, in classes and by influencing the faculty who teach them.
What Others Should Know About the NC State College of Education: We value excellence and have high expectations. I want to work in a place that knows educators are important and can truly influence the future so they better be well-prepared. The NC State College of Education is also a collegial place in which many different roles are valued for their contributions.
The Last Thing I Experienced That Inspired Me: Our job in METRC involves many different components and I was drawn to librarianship in large part due to the ever-changing nature of the work. I am sometimes a literacy consultant, a researcher, an instructional technology guide, a teacher, a manager and more. Due to the sudden shift to remote learning in March 2020, METRC staff also felt our role as … technology counselors. All of us in METRC have worked to not just help people survive in their new online reality but thrive, and I’ve been inspired by how our faculty and staff have responded. People are stressed but focused on continuous improvement and staying very positive about how they can continue working to influence a new generation of teachers. Faculty and staff have also been so thankful for the support and guidance we provide in METRC. I’m inspired by their attendance at workshops, willingness to participate in summer book studies, desire to talk out new ideas and general work ethic during so much change.