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Welcome back, Parkers; Sisters return to alma mater to teach, counsel

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The community of Boyd watched the Parker sisters grow up on the basketball court.

The older two – Tara and Erica – led the Lady Yellowjackets to the state championship game in 2001.

Lisa, the youngest sister, served as that team’s water girl but played for a playoff-qualifying team three years later.

Since graduating high school in 2002, 2003 and 2008, the trio has completed their collegiate studies, married and returned to their alma mater in the next steps of their career path.

At Home Again

AT HOME AGAIN – After graduating from Boyd High School and their respective colleges, the Parker sisters. (from left) Erica Warner, Tara Allred and Lisa Roderick have all returned to their alma mater to coach, counsel and teach. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“This community watched us grow up,” said the eldest. “It’s neat to be able to come back and give back.”

Tara Allred, who graduated in 2002 completed her degree at Texas Tech University in 2005 and earned a master’s from Texas Woman’s University in 2010. She has also earned her principal’s certification from Lamar University.

She began coaching, teaching language arts and a leadership class, in Northwest ISD before serving as a counselor in the same district for two years.

In 2011, she returned to Boyd. She begins her 10th year in education as a third-year counselor at the high school and the district’s testing coordinator.

“I have three children now,” she said. “I was always interested in coming back to a smaller community to raise them. I really loved growing up here.”

The next year, Lisa Roderick joined her sister.

“It’s home,” she said. “Out of college, I never thought I’d come back – maybe eventually, but not so soon.

“But whenever you meet with a superintendent like Mr. (Ted) West and administrators, who all put you in a comfortable place, it happens. It’s a family place, and I think that’s rare.

“Being in a family of education, even though I’m just out of college, I can notice those things. That was pretty big.”

Roderick graduated from BHS in 2008 then from Tarleton State University four years later.

She worked for Northwest ISD for a semester before returning to Boyd in 2013 as a coach, health, biology and money matters teacher.

This year she takes over as the physical education teacher at the elementary school.

With the hiring of Erica Warner – a 2003 BHS graduate – over the summer, the trio is complete. Erica joined the Boyd staff as the AEP coordinator, junior high and high school coach.

“It was the right time for a change,” said Warner, who taught PE and coached at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Northwest ISD for six years after graduating from Sam Houston State University in 2008. “It helps that both sisters are in this school district.

“Plus, I think it’s pretty cool to come back where I grew up and work with some of my favorite people who taught me and coaches who coached me.”

Coaches Brandon Hopkins, Oscar Hernandez and John Basting as well as teachers Blake Smith, Charla Spraggens and Lisa Warren are all now her colleagues.

“I’m not going to lie,” Warner laughed. “I hope they don’t remember how I was as a student.”

She said she just had a tough time in the classroom.

“It’s not that I was a bad student,” she said. “I wasn’t one who tried to be disruptive or anything. The classroom setting, as a student … I don’t like sitting in a desk. I move the whole time.”

She said Ms. Warren didn’t make her sit in a desk, but let her sit on top of it.

“I went to school, played my sports and went to hang out,” she said. “I was that high school kid, so I understand high school kids well.”

“A little weird…”

Tara said coming back was even more weird for her, because as a counselor she sometimes directs those teachers who used to direct her.

“As a counselor, I’m not in an administrative role, but I do some administrative stuff – especially as the testing coordinator,” she said. “It was weird to be on the opposite side. I think it’s weird for them to think that we could be doing these jobs.

“But they made it an easy transition. As always, they’ve been so supportive.”

Roderick, the most recent to graduate, may have had the most difficulty transitioning from student to colleague among the people who taught and coached her.

“I just left their classrooms four years before,” she said. “But they were fantastic. My favorite part about it was having Coach (Doug) Norman, who was kind of like a father figure on campus. If I didn’t know what to do or if I was having a bad day, he would help however he could, but he was also real with me. He would be like, ‘I look at you like you’re 12 still.'”

It’s that sense of family and support – as well as monumental improvements on the horizon – that drew each of the three back.

“The flexibility you have and the family support that the administrators give you here is huge,” Allred said. “That was a big thing for me as well, to know that family comes first. There are good things happening here. We came at a good time where we’re taking a really positive direction, and there’s a lot of good things happening within the district. That’s exciting to be a part of.”

“There’s a sense of tradition very deeply rooted,” Roderick added.

“… and we’d like to see that continued,” Warner finished.

“Absolutely,” the eldest concurred. “And do what we can to give back to our community. I think the community gave so much to us. To give back is a big deal.”

Although they relish the support of their teachers-turned colleagues, the three especially hold onto the bond between them.

“It’s nice because we are super-tight outside,” Allred said. “They’re my best friends, so it’s nice to be able to call on them for work-related stuff. I know if I need something, they’ll do it; same for me. It’s convenient, but it’s also a blessing to be able to have that.”

“Like, I’ll be the nephew chauffeur,” Roderick said. “I’ll get to work with them and then bring them to Mom.”

Allred explained.

“Erica’s little boy and my little girl are going to go to the same daycare so we can help each other,” she said. “I don’t know a lot of people who can say they have that.”

“And we like each other, which is important,” Roderick added.

PATHS CONVERGE

Considering each of them initially pursued different career paths, the idea of the three working together seems even more novel.

Allred aspired to become an athletic trainer while Roderick contemplated a nursing degree for all of three months.

For Warner, the path was a little more clear-cut.

“I just knew I was going to coach. It’s part of my life,” she said. “If I wasn’t going to be playing basketball, I was going to coach it. To do that, you teach and so, here I am. If I didn’t go to college, I would’ve gone to the police academy. But Tara said, ‘That’s a no, I don’t think so. You’re not getting shot at.'”

“And Tara’s the boss,” Roderick chimed in.

“Yes, so I was like, ‘OK, I guess we’re going to college,” Warner said.

Now, having entered education, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s in the blood,” Allred said.

In addition to their mother, Linda – who serves as executive director of secondary education for Northwest ISD – and their father, Arnold – who retired after a legendary career as a basketball coach, the girls descend from a long line of educators.

Their grandfather served as a principal while all of their maternal aunts and an aunt on uncle on their dad’s side all worked in education.

“So literally it’s in the family,” Allred said. “When I say it’s in the blood, I think you can try to run from it, but it brings you back.

“For me, I started out as an athletic trainer at Tech. But I decided that it wasn’t for me. So I was just like, ‘I’m just going to coach and teach.’ It was just an automatic. I think part of it was I really didn’t know any different. I didn’t really know what else was out there.”

The impact their loved ones had on students, and the impact their educators had on them, was a huge factor.

“Watching my parents inspire so many people and seeing even now at Halloween when all of my mom’s old students come by their house, people who are in their late 30s are like, ‘Mrs. Parker!’,” Allred recalled. “To see that connection and that relationship that they built years ago and they still have, I always thought that was really neat. I’ve always been inspired to work with kids and hopefully have the same kind of impact my parents have had.”

Her youngest sister agreed.

“I don’t think teaching is something you just pick,” Roderick added. “It’s not just a job. It’s a calling, a lifestyle, and you can’t run from it. I tried to not do it, but that didn’t work out. But when you see people that your parents have impacted and even seeing people my sisters had impacted, I don’t think there’s a greater joy than making a difference. As cliche as that is, it’s just cool. It’s cool to see the difference you make.

“… in a child’s life,” Warner finished. “You see a kid who struggles at something, then you see them get it and overcome it. It’s neat.”

And what better place to do that than in the community that supported them?

“I want people to know that we’re back because we love this community,” Allred said. “We want to give back to the community that gave so much to us growing up. It is really a neat opportunity to be able to come give back and hopefully – who knows what the future holds? – but hopefully raise our children here. Hopefully they have a good experience like we did.”

Allred is the mother of two sons, ages 6 and 4, and a month-old daughter. Warner has a 1-year-old son.

“When I have kids, I can’t imagine another place to raise them to have a great childhood like we did,” Roderick said. “We’ll just have to start a boys basketball team.”

And continue the Parker family legacy.

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