Rick Parker, an administrator at East Mecklenburg High School for the last 19 years, was named Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ principal of the year on Tuesday.
Parker has held the school’s top job since 2009, when he was promoted from assistant principal. He has worked for CMS since 1989 and is a Charlotte native who graduated from West Meck.
“I remember what it was like to be a student here. And while many things have changed, some things are evergreen, like good studying habits, good manners and treating people with respect,” Parker is quoted as saying in a CMS news release.
According to that report, Parker is so popular with his students that the senior class of 2016 had T-shirts made with his face on a dollar bill, saying, “In Parker we trust.” One of those shirts, signed by the seniors, still hangs in his office.
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The stability and community confidence Parker has built over his tenure has been credited with helping East Meck remain popular with families in an area known for ethnic, racial and economic diversity. The neighborhood school hosts the largest International Baccalaureate magnet program in CMS, with almost 1,100 students.
East Meck logged a 91 percent graduation rate this year and has exceeded growth targets for student test scores for the last three years, CMS reports.
“Rick is an energetic, dynamic leader who ensures that each and every child at East Meck has the opportunity for success,” his supervisor, Tara Lynn Sullivan, said in the CMS release. “He is the model of a servant-leader who works hard to ensure that the teachers and staff have the resources and tools to help students be successful in his school. He is innovative, dedicated, passionate and hardworking.”
Parker was honored at a surprise announcement at school Tuesday afternoon. He is one of only seven principals in East Meck’s 67-year history.