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Relationships are this principal’s principle!
BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – The track to being an administrator all started for Kathleen Young-Parker at Campbell Park Elementary where she served as the assistant principal under the guidance of Principal James Steen. For those now at Campbell Park, getting to know the new principal will be as easy as walking through the door.
For over 20 years, students and staff knew her as Ms. Young. A new love in her life captured her heart and changed her name adding on Parker. However, the only thing different about her is her last name.
“I learned to become a successful leader and it is important to build relationships with students, faculty, family and the community,” said Young-Parker. “I’m a Christian, mom, wife and educator. Each part of who I am and the success of how I do is based on the relationship with the people in those respective places.”
Young-Parker feels people do not care what you have done in the past or how many degrees you have hanging on the wall, what they really care about is how you make them feel.
“Kids will do things for you when they believe that you care,” she stated. “My goal is to always leave people with the mindset that together we’ve accomplished something.”
Young-Parker is homegrown and came up through the ranks of Pinellas County Schools. She attended Pinellas Park Elementary and Madeira Beach Middle before graduating from Northeast High. Go Vikings!
She went on to Florida A & M University in Tallahassee for her bachelor’s degree and received a master’s degree and became an education specialist from Argosy University. For her first teaching job, she was recruited by long-time educator and guru James Feazell. Those were fond memories.
“I remember the first days of school growing up including that first year as a teacher. You need to see a friendly face and helping hand,” stated Young-Parker. “Because of this, our teachers will know day one where their students are individually. Our students will see people who are genuinely concerned about them. The parents will see that we are partners with them and the community will see that we value them.”
The process begins with a strong leader supporting and being supported by a team of people who have the same goals and believe they are valued. Staff camaraderie is important to making strives and Young-Parker is making it a priority.
She said it’s not just one thing that you do to team build, but many. One thing she’s implemented is a system of “one-on-ones” where any staff member can meet and share their thoughts. It’s a key principle in building good relationships.
“One of my strengths is that I’m a good listener and I’m not always talking. I’m good at building relationships,” said the new principal.
For her, that has been the most telling story. In the past when she’s left a place, the common message has been that she impacted the hearts of the people. Her goal is to leave a place better than she found it, which includes being organized, calm and peaceful.
Young-Parker sees Campbell Park as a beautiful community school with good people and teachers who love the children. As a part of the community school vision concept, they have received a $4 million grant that will provide an on-site mental health counselor, two social workers and a resource navigator.
The community can come to the school to utilize the social services, which in conjunction with the United Way, will provide tutoring, medical needs and student enrichment activities. A community partnership with the neighboring Cross & Anvil Human Services to provide social service needs will allow the school to focus on academics for the students.
“I would love for people to know that we are going to get there. We have a high number of students who are not yet proficient, but we will make gains and accomplishments. It just takes time,” said Young-Parker.
With the school jumping two letter grades last school year, Young-Parker will build on that success. With an emphasis on building solid relationships, the school will be a place where everyone is someone — a scholar.