Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Parks
Ms. Janice Parks, a very well-known math teacher at Mayfair who teaches a combination of Trigonometry and Integrated Math III Honors. She has always been known as “the cool math teacher with a Tesla” or “the math teacher who you can find honored at Lakewood McDonald’s.” Despite these two things being true, and great aspects of her story, there is more to Ms. Parks that a lot of people do not know.
Starting off her journey in high school, Ms. Parks graduated from Mayfair in 1985, where she spent a lot of her time in a few different sports. From being on the varsity volleyball team for a total of three years to also being a varsity softball and basketball player for all four years of high school, Ms. Parks earned an award for “All Around Performer” and was put into the Lakewood Hall of Fame. As the first female athlete to have their jersey retired at Mayfair High school in 2015, she made her mark as an athlete in high school and decided to further that journey in college.
Moving on to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Ms. Parks played for their softball team as third base, winning two national championships in 1988 and 1989, and was a three-time first-team All-American. Additionally, in 1989 Ms. Parks earned the Honda Award and was deemed the best softball player in the United States. Following graduating from UCLA in 1990, she played for Puerto Rico in the 1996 Olympics. Ms. Parks’ UCLA jersey has been retired in the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame since 2015.
Besides all of the softball awards and years played, Ms. Parks has always had a love for math. It wasn’t until she had to teach her little sister math that she realized she wanted to be a math teacher. Her sister would ask why her teachers didn’t explain math the way she did and that influenced her decision to go to school to become a teacher. After many years of teaching, the best part to her would be “making kids who never liked math before realize that they can do it well and believe in themselves.” Coming from a former student of Ms. Parks, senior Priscella Baeza, expressed that her experience being in Ms. Parks' class was purely a positive one, revealing that “she was very kind and helpful, and I really appreciated her teaching style, sudokus, and how she would ensure that everyone understood the content before moving on.” Also coming from a fellow math teacher at Mayfair, Mr. Loren Green shares that in his experience, “Ms. Parks is the best teacher I have ever worked with. Her intellect and generosity knows no limits.” After working at Mayfair for 22 years, Mr. Green has seen how Ms. Parks has “influenced and supported the Math Department with both her expertise in technology and by sharing lessons, tests, and other teaching materials while also providing her students with opportunities to learn above and beyond any teacher I have ever known.”
Outside of school, Ms. Parks loves to spend her free time either with family, traveling, road trips, or going to the casino (although not recommended). Traveling wise, going to national parks and driving no matter where the destination is just to see somewhere new is one of her favorite hobbies. With a history of traveling, Ms. Parks’ stated her favorite place that she has ever been to is Santorini, Greece, which to her is “the most beautiful place she’s ever been.”
All in all, it is clear that Ms. Parks has had quite the journey through her life and has made a great impact on many students’ lives. If she could give a general piece of advice to everyone, Ms. Parks has shared that “if something is important to you, you will find a way to do it, and if it isn’t, then you will make an excuse as to why you can’t do it,” inspiring many to take that statement and consider it in nearly anything you do in everyday life. From the best softball player in the US, to an olympian, and all the way to being one of the most impactful and inspirational teachers at Mayfair, Ms. Parks is a great individual in more ways than one.