Influencer of the Week: Donald Parm, Olympia High School

An English teacher at Olympia, Parm has been at the school for going on 19 years and his dedication to his students earned him the title of Teacher of the Year.

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  • | 11:30 a.m. January 28, 2020
  • Southwest Orange
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English teacher Donald Parm has a long history of serving the educational needs of students in Orange County. Parm has worked in the OCPS system for 23 years and has been at Olympia since the school first opened in 2001. He’s served the school in numerous roles and his dedication to his students led to him being named the school’s Teacher of the Year. 

What do you love most about your school?

I love the community we have at Olympia. I won’t sugarcoat it and say everyone is always smiling and positive. It is a place, however, where people will try to lift your spirits.

What brought you to Olympia?

I had been teaching middle school for three years, but knew I wanted to teach high school. Olympia was opening and directly across the street from Chain of Lakes Middle School. High school was going to give me the opportunity to teach some of my favorite literature as well as coach.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

By far, the best part of the job is getting to know students and watching them grow as thinkers. Not much in life compares to the “aha moments.” Seeing a student’s eyes light up with joy when they finally get it is a treat few people get to experience.

What motivates you and pushes you to do your best?

My students are my motivation. I know a lot of their future depends on how well I do my job. Their success in writing and thinking for college courses is my responsibility. Along with that is making helping them to see, through literature, they are not alone. I hope understanding the shared human experience will make the rough patches ahead a little easier to bare. 

What’s the nicest thing a student or faculty member has done for you?

There is no single thing a student or faculty member has done for me. Students often use my ugly mug as inspiration and draw pictures of me to hang. The faculty did elect me Teacher of the Year last year. The real “niceness” is the kindness I receive from all entities on a daily basis. 

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I am a roller coaster and theme park freak. In the summers I usually drag my family around the country to ride coasters. I also read and watch way too much television.

What’s your favorite restaurant and favorite meal?

My favorite restaurant is Texas de Brazil — a meat lover’s paradise. Any establishment smart enough to put meat on the salad bar, too, is a place I respect. My favorite meal usually involves red sauce — be it pizza or pasta.

What fun talents do you possess?

I have an evil sense of humor. I love making people laugh at more than just my face. I can defuse situations often by making people laugh. I can also grade essays quickly. If 150 students turn in an essay on Monday, 150 students will have essays back with meaningful feedback on Tuesday.


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