The Ginn Academy, founded in 2007 by Ted Ginn, Sr., is the only all-male public high school in Ohio. Come in and see what goes on inside the hearts and minds of 655 E. 162nd Street each day. Let us tell you our stories. Photos and text not to be used without permission.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teamwork: Mrs. Hazel Parker

Last week we talked about the team of three that runs The Ginn Academy: Executive Director Ted Ginn, Sr., Principal Hayes, and Mrs. Hazel Parker, Coach Ginn's executive assistant. Though Mrs. Parker's job description includes such duties as interaction with families, assisting with special education programs, faculty and staff liaison, fundraising, and extra curricular programming, her range of responsibilities goes far beyond. Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes at the school knows that Mrs. Parker is the glue that holds every single little thing together.

In five minutes she can tell you the details of the Sophomores' field trip, the Seniors' dining-in ceremony, which teachers are out sick that day, the five different places Coach Ginn is expected before 7 p.m., which boys are to talk to the visiting college coaches, who needs a new white uniform shirt to replace one with holes, and the life story of nearly every kid at the school, plus who is in trouble and whose grandmother is in the hospital.

She likes to joke that she has two daughters and 300 sons, which isn't far from the truth. The boys go to Mrs. Parker's office for granola bars, bananas, band aids, a spare belt or necktie, and a shoulder to cry on. She is constantly correcting grammar, gently instructing the boys on how to enter a room and introduce themselves to newcomers, reminding them to hold open doors for visitors and let ladies go first.

Mrs. Parker is not new to her "assistant coach" position with Mr. Ginn's team. They've known each other since 1969 when they attended Patrick Henry Jr. High together in the 7th grade in Glenville. After graduating from Glenville H.S. when she was only 16, Mrs. Parker went on to earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Cleveland State University and then worked as a speech pathologist in the Shaker Heights district for 20 years. "I appreciate the sacrifice that Mrs. Parker has made, stepping out of her chosen profession as a speech pathologist to give to others," says Mr. Ginn. "This place is not a job. It's a mission and a calling for work that needs to be done. Mrs. Parker and Mr. Hayes are angels in this movement."

The two families stayed close over the years as Mrs. Parker's relatives attended Glenville H.S. and played football under Coach's guidance. When the opportunity arose to work at the newly created school, she jumped at the chance. "It was a decision that just felt natural. I still wanted to work on behalf of children and seeing the impact that Coach Ginn had made on four of my nephews just sealed it for me," says Mrs. Parker. "I knew this was something that I wanted to be a part of."

The support of his two fellow teammates is invaluable to Mr. Ginn and the mission of the school. It's not an easy task to take the passionate vision of one man and pass it around for others to embrace and implement. Important aspects can get lost in translation and egos can get in the way.

About his executive assistant Mr. Ginn says, "Mrs. Parker is one of the founders of the school. Nobody knows the work that goes on here every day. She's the heart of the school. She keeps the i's dotted and the t's crossed."

We are gaining momentum with every day. Pieces have fallen into place and we've got our heads in the game. There is still much work to be done and we are thankful to have your support behind us as we take the field for another play.