Happy Valley principal wants to build upon a great foundation

Published 11:50 am Thursday, August 4, 2022

By Angela Cutrer
Elizabethton Star
New principal Keith Parker said Happy Valley Middle School is, well, a happy place to be, especially considering the advancements long-term principal Katherine Hyder made during her years at the school.
When Hyder stepped into a Central Office role, Parker saw the opportunity to return to the school from Valley Forge, where he was principal last year.
“I have a lot of respect for the Happy Valley community and I wanted to be part of that community again,” Parker said. “I really enjoyed my time at Valley Forge, where I was principal last year. We had continued to grow and I was sad to leave.
“However, now I have a new set of challenges and I’m eager to get started. It’s good to be back.”
Originally from South Carolina, Parker moved to the area in 2008 after his marriage to Casey, a teacher in Sullivan County. The couple has two daughters, ages 12 and 7.
Parker received his bachelor’s degree at Gardner-Webb University and his master’s and specialist’s at Union College. He has 14 years experience as a teacher and is entering his fourth year in administration.
“I have an open-door policy,” Parker said. “Parents can call or email any time. I want parents to feel free to reach out to us at Happy Valley. I don’t want to be the principal who only speaks to parents when a student is having a bad day. I want to be a part of the communication when the student is having a great day, as well.
“This school has a habit of doing a good job communicating, and I want to continue that.”
Parker said he wants his faculty and staff to have the goal as educators to find what students really need. “The staff and faculty are eager and excited to welcome back students to a new school year,” he said.
“I want our community to be proud of the school. First and foremost, we will take care of our students. We will strive to meet their needs and we will keep them safe.
“This school wants to keep children in our system,” he added. “We produce a good product and want to continue that.”

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