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Parrish retires from Straughn after 31 years

By: Donnamy Steele

After 31 years of teaching at Straughn High School, Deborah Parrish is retiring.

Parrish began her teaching journey at SHS after graduating from Troy University.

“I got both my BA in Language Arts Education and my MS in English Education from Troy University, which was Troy State at that time,” Parrish said. “I was hired straight out of college in 1989 and I taught at Straughn High School for 31 years. I have taught 7th, 9th, and 10th grade English, but the majority of those years were spent teaching 11th grade English. I also served as sponsor of the yearbook, Tigerama for 30 of those 31 years.”

Parrish described her experience of being an educator as a dream that came true. “Teaching American literature, grammar, and writing was a dream job,” Parrish said. “A lot of people have regrets that their dreams never came true. I lived mine every day.”

Parrish’s passion for teaching began when she was a child. As a young student, she studied her teachers and considered them an inspiration for her future as a teacher.

“There was never a time in my life that I did not want to be a teacher. I decided as early as kindergarten that I wanted to be a teacher. Other kids want to be princesses and firemen and action heroes. I wanted to be a teacher. Teachers were always superheroes to me,” Parrish said. “I watched my teachers carefully, noting traits that I did or did not want to adopt myself one day. I had awesome teachers as role models in the Andalusia school system. I won’t try to name them all.”

When schools were closed due to the pandemic, Parrish did not realize that it would also be her last day as a teacher.

“My last day was March 13, the day we dismissed because of the pandemic. I had no idea that would be the last day of my teaching career. I decided to retire after very careful thought and prayer,” Parrish said. “It was time.”

Parrish takes pride in the number of SHS alumni that choose to return to the school to teach.

“I will miss everything about teaching. I loved my time at SHS, the students, my co-workers, and the atmosphere. It is a great school. I love that a lot of my former students are now teachers there. The current principal is even a former student,” Parrish said.

Now that she is no longer teaching, Parrish plans to dedicate her new free time to finding herself and exploring her interests.

“This retirement idea is so new to me. I am not sure what the future holds for me. I am trying ‘to find’ my new self,” Parrish said. “I love to read. I will certainly catch up on some reading I did not have time for while I was working. I also love to cook, and I am getting into gardening. I will enjoy being able to spend time with my family. I definitely plan to enjoy my new life.”