Counselor retiring after 29 years in school system
Ken Parry thought his job in Peabody-Burns School District, would be a short-term position. That was 29 years ago.
“In my head, it was just that I’d get some experience and move on to bigger things,” he said. “I found out this was where I was supposed to be. This is my bigger and better things.”
Parry is leaving his post after two years as counselor. He has held jobs with Peabody-Burns, including technology director, teacher, and principal.
“I always wanted to be the high school counselor, but that opportunity didn’t come up at the right time,” he said.
Instead, Parry went on to get an administrative degree, and became Peabody-Burns’ elementary principal from 2001 to 2013, followed by three years as high school principal.
“It’s cool because I’ve known these kids since they were born,” he said. “All the high schoolers now, I was their principal at grade school when they entered preschool.”
Parry said his experience over the years has helped him become a good counselor.
“You know where all the parts of the equation are coming in,” he said. “You know where all the people are coming from. The biggest part of my job is taking care of kids, but there’s also what the state mandates, which I already knew from being an administrator.”
Despite his extensive tenure, valuing his experiences over the year is easier in hindsight, Parry said.
“I should have listened to all the people who told me the time would go by so fast,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like 30 years. I’ve been thinking the past couple weeks just about the number of kids I worked with, and it’s incredible the number of people whose lives you can, hopefully, make better in this profession.”
Parry said he enjoyed each role at Peabody-Burns, but his current job is his favorite.
“Even as a kid, I was the one people came to when they wanted to talk,” he said. “This position is by far my favorite.”
Teachers don’t always see their direct impact on students, so Parry said he enjoys when they come back and say, “thanks.”
“It’s such a small community that you know the families,” he said. “You’re able to really get to know the kids. Sometimes with larger schools, it’s 300 against one, and you don’t get that personal level.”
While that personal connection is helpful, it also makes retiring more difficult, Parry said.
“In your head, you’re going, ‘after this class graduates,’ ” he said. “People always told me I’d know when it was the right time. Even though I’ll miss a lot of the kids, it feels like this is the time.”
One thing that will make it easier is maintaining ties with students and the community, Parry said.
“They still want to see you around town,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that. I don’t plan on walking out the doors without looking back.”
Last modified April 25, 2019