By Terry Rogers
Recently, the six schools in Milford School District announced their nominees for Teacher of the Year. The six nominees will compete for the title of District Teacher of the Year which will be announced on May 6, 2016. Milford High School’s nominee, Molly Chorman, and Milford Central Academy’s nominee, Jesse Parsley, say that they are proud to be chosen as someone who exemplifies excellence in education.
“I have proudly served Milford School District for 12 years,” Ms. Chorman said. “My entire career has been in Milford, a journey that started as a student and continues as an educator. This is a very full circle moment for me.” Ms. Chorman said that she entered the teaching profession because she wanted to serve. She says she felt and still feels the love of her hometown and wanted to pay it forward. Ms. Chorman graduated from Milford in 1999 and says she has been “hanging out in the same classrooms ever since.”
Happily married to her husband of 12 years and raising two daughters, Lucy, 7, and Lainey, 3, Ms. Chorman teaches Business Tech at Milford High School. She says that her biggest challenges are finding the time for real, personal connections with her students.
“You truly want to be part of a student’s educational journey and that takes time,” Ms. Chorman said. “Sometimes, the bell rings and the books close and you ask ‘Did I connect today? Did I reach out to that student in the back row?’ On the other hand, my student connection is an achievement I will always hold dear to my heart. This fall, I started a Milford mentoring program that sends high school seniors back into elementary classrooms to serve, I love the heart behind this selfless student act. It makes our community whole, it is why we are here – to serve.”
Ms. Chorman said that anyone who wishes to enter the teaching profession should find the positive, change the negative and maintain their enthusiasm. Her motto is that “this is your time to make a difference – own it.”
Jesse Parsley began his career 13 years ago at Woodbridge High School before coming to Milford in his second year of teaching. Teaching was not Mr. Parsley’s first career as he spent six years in the Army and 12 in the automobile business.
“Many of my friends and family are educators, it was always something I wanted to do and I needed to find a way to make it happen,” Mr. Parsley said. “I took 15 years off between semesters until my family encouraged me to go back and finish my degree. I worked 40 hours a week and took 12 to 15 credits a semester to finish. I guess I’m still selling of sorts by finding ways for students to be engaged in class and their own learning. For the past 13 years, teaching and coaching has been awesome.”
Finding rigorous and meaningful activities for students is one of the biggest challenges Mr. Parsley faces. He said that he has learned that students tend to learn better when they see a direct correlation between content and real life. He says that being named the building teacher of the year is one of his greatest accomplishments, as was being selected a member of the 2014 Delaware Dream Team by the state Department of Education and a 2015 Educate Delaware Finalist. He was also selected to present nationally at the NEA Leadership Conference in 2015 and 2016.
Mr. Parsley grew up in Greensburg, located in western Pennsylvania and moved to the Milford area 24 years ago. His wife, Renee, taught at Sussex Tech for 21 years and is now the 5-12 Math Specialist in the Capital School District. Both of Mr. Parsley’s daughters graduated from Milford and his brother, Don, is finishing his 31st year as a teacher in Milford. Mr. Parsley currently teaches eighth grade math at MCA.
“There are several good college programs in this state,” Mr. Parsley said when asked what advice he had for young adults considering entering the teaching profession. “Find a program that allows you to spend an extended amount of time in buildings working with students and learning from current teachers. The other thing other teachers need to understand is that the education career is ever-changing and it is their responsibility to find innovative ways to keep up with the changing times.
The Teacher of the Year Award was established by the Delaware Department of Education in 1965. Schools nominate building educators who then compete for the title of District Teacher of the Year. The winner of that award competes at the state level and, if chosen as the Delaware Teacher of the Year, then competes nationally for a national award. Since its inception in 1965, three Milford teachers have been named Delaware Teacher of the Year – Mary Decker in 1973, Penny Shockley in 1988 and Mercedes Ferrari in 1992.