‘Lucky’ doesn’t Begin to Describe Margaret Parent’s Contributions
May 24, 2019
by Doug Robinson
When asked to describe her career in one word, Margaret A. Parent –Litchfield educator, mentor, teacher, mother, leader, devoted wife, active community volunteer, athlete and representative to Merrimack Valley Home Health Care Association– simply said “lucky.”
Webster’s dictionary describes “lucky” as an “expression.” “Break a leg,” “Knock ‘em dead,” or “fingers crossed. These are common expressions of the word “lucky.”
Good luck has also been described as “when opportunity meets preparation.” And this is where our story begins.
The reality of Margaret Parent’s “luck,” as she describes the longevity of her 46 teaching years in the Litchfield school system, is far removed from any typical definition. And for those reasons, she was recognized and presented with the Doris Barnes Retired Educator Lifetime Achievement Award.
This award honors a retired teacher who has continued to work with youth and the betterment of public education after his or her retirement.
The requirements continue to say, “A nominee must be retired after spending a minimum of 20 years as a full-time educator. It is also expected that the nominee can describe how they have stayed involved working with youth or other vital issues related to education since retirement.”
This NH Excellence in Education Award is awarded only once a year, for “the outstanding elementary, middle, and secondary schools.”
“Luck” had nothing to do with Margaret being awarded this prestigious award. She earned this award the old-fashioned way. She loves her work. “I knew it was time to retire, but, I loved my job, the kids, the staff, community, and my life. Yet, I knew it was time for me to spend time with my family,” recalled Margaret.
Then, with that all-knowing smile, she said, “I love my job. I have loved it for 46 years. And, today, she continues to tutor math at Griffin Memorial School.
Margaret attended Griffin Memorial as a young child many decades ago, continued her education through the Litchfield school system and then attended Alvirne High School, graduating in 1968. Having received her BS degree in elementary education (graduating cum laude) in 1972, she returned to Litchfield to begin her educational teaching career.
She then went back to school to earn a master’s degree in elementary education continuing to better herself with graduate courses at UNH, Rivier College, University of Lowell, Notre Dame College, and Endicott College.
Margaret’s drive and passion to be the best she could be was not based on “luck.” It was based on preparation and purpose.
As a young child, her tutelage, upbringing, and family environment were built on the foundation of education. She was born into a family whose educational backgrounds “go back four generations,” wrote Principal Thompson. Margaret’s “luck” was solidly built with that foundation of family support.
Margaret’s love of education extended beyond the classroom and into the community. Litchfield is a community that deeply values education.
“As a kid, I volunteered with the 4-H organization and I played in the softball league,” said Margaret. “Back then, it was not like it is now with all the various organizations. I also was involved with the various activities of the Grange. I remember serving at the Strawberry Festival and I remember helping out at the various community dinners. Bike riding was big back then. We even rode our bikes on 3A.”
As the expression goes, the stripes on a zebra do not change over time. Margaret has also been recognized for her relentless community service efforts.
Recipient of the Pat Jewett Appreciation Award, VFW Loyalty Day Service Award, Golden Apple Award, nominated for the Teacher of the Year, member of the Litchfield Historical Society, volunteer with the American Cancer Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Society, Litchfield Budget Committee for six years, as well a mentor for new teachers in the Litchfield School District. None of this begins to scratch the glass of Margaret’s contributions to the betterment of her hometown, Litchfield.
Griffin Memorial School Principal Scott Thompson writes in Margret’s application, “Margaret Parent personified the ideal of lifetime service to her school and community. It is this very quality which remains me so much of Doris Barnes, with whom I had the pleasure of working with in Gilford in the 1990s.
“This year, Margaret was honored in Litchfield for 45 years of continuous service to the school district. Margaret’s connection to Litchfield and GMS did not begin in 1973 — she grew up in Litchfield and attended GMS as a student.
“Nor did it end when she retired. Margaret moved directly from full-time employment as a teacher to part-time work as a math tutor. Her thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. Margaret participates in parent programs learning outside the school day. With 46 years of continual service to her credit, there is no end in sight. (She has) a very deep commitment to students, to learning and to teaching that makes (her) an outstanding candidate for the Doris Barnes Award.”
“I am just lucky,” continued Margaret. “Litchfield is a small town, and I am lucky that parents and families in Litchfield support education.”
Principal Thompson said it best: “Litchfield is lucky to have Margaret Parent. Our schools are lucky. Our community is lucky. We are an honored community to have Margaret in our family.”