Joshua Parker prides himself on living life to the fullest as fast as possible.
"There's so much to do in your life, you don't know how much time you have," the Randallstown resident says.
At just 28, the Windsor Mill Middle School English and language arts teacher was named Baltimore County's teacher of the year in a ceremony at the school system's Towson headquarters. Parker will compete with teachers of the year in other counties throughout Maryland for a chance at the state honor.
Parker, a graduate of Towson University and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, was nominated by his principal, Debbie Phelps, who called him "an exciting man."
"Watching him in the classroom makes it come alive," she said.
Parker has been teaching for only six years, at Dundalk Middle School and New Town High School before coming to Windsor Mill this year.
"While I've given my life to this labor of love, I've gotten back so much more," he said after receiving the award. "I’ve seen students’ lives changed from the themes, discussions and skills learned in my classes. I’ve seen students broaden their horizons to understand that their options extend beyond the basketball court or beauty salon."
School officials presented Parker with numerous gifts, including a year's membership to Brick Bodies, a National Aquarium membership, tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, a new laptop, books for Windsor Mill's library, a weekend at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Timonium, a trip to a professional development conference and his own parking space.
That's a huge upgrade for Parker, who once woke up to catch the first of two buses at 5 a.m. to get to Dundalk Middle School from his Baltimore apartment.
"I pour my heart into what I do," he said.
The other finalists included:
- Matthew Berkey, a physical education teacher at Norwood Elementary School in Dundalk
- Stacey Bredar, a fifth-grade reading teacher at Prettyboy Elementary School in Freeland
- Kimberly Burton-Regulski, a mathematics teacher at Eastern Technical High School in Essex
- Melanie Coates, an English and journalism teacher at Catonsville High School in Catonsville
- Michelle Stoll, an English teacher at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson
- Renee Whelehan, an art teacher at West Towson Elementary School in Towson