Citing her “unwavering devotion,” connection with students and encouraging nature, the nominations for this year’s Oakwood SchoolsFoundation Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award winner describe an educator who continues to make a difference in her students’ lives, even in these unprecedented times.
This year’s winner is Family and Consumer Science teacher Leslie Blythe. Blythe, a 30-year veteran of Oakwood Schools, becomes the 10th winner of the award established by Beverly Parker, a former Harman teacher, in loving memory of her husband Bob. The award, presented each spring, honors a current Oakwood teacher who uniquely inspires the full potential of each student with whom he or she works.
“We feel such a close bond with the Oakwood education system. We have always believed the teachers in the Oakwood Schools are exceptional and give much of themselves for the betterment of the children in our community,” Parker said. “Our family cannot think of a better way to give back to the schools than to honor the special teachers who go above and beyond what is expected of them. This award is one way we can show our appreciation and gratitude for all they do for our children.”
A fellow Oakwood teacher/parent and a number of students wrote letters on behalf of Blythe’s nomination.
In nominating Blythe for the award, one student wrote, “Mrs. Blythe is a role model to me, and is one of the most genuinely friendly and caring teachers at Oakwood High School. Her unwavering devotion to the school and all the people in it is so amazing. I truly hope that in the future, I will be able to have such a positive impact on another person’s life as she had on mine.”
A fellow teacher wrote in her nomination letter, “Her modeling of curiosity energizes the students. The effects of which can be seen years later. They may not stay with sewing and they may not know how to cook what she taught them, but, because of her, they have more confidence in their abilities to take risks, to look more deeply, and make connections. It is those connections that are holding students together during this quarantine.”
Another student shared that “no matter how badly I cooked, or how poorly I sewed, she never once got frustrated or impatient or gave up…always taking the time to cater to our individual issues, and did so gladly, with humility.”
One student summed up the impact Blythe has on her students. Her mentorship does not end on graduation day. She maintains relationships, keeps up with students’ pains, fears, joys accomplishments and milestones. “Mrs. Blythe will forever continue to share her encouragement with students just like me.”
The Oakwood Schools Foundation congratulates Blythe on being the 10th recipient of The Parker Love of Teaching Award and thanks all the alumni, parents, students and community members who nominated teachers and wrote letters of support. The Foundation thanks Bev Parker for her generosity and vision in establishing this important award.
The Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award was created in 2010 by former longtime
Oakwood teacher Beverly (Bev) Parker in memory of her late husband, Robert (Bob) Parker. The Parker
family has benefited in many ways from Oakwood’s outstanding school system and wanted to give back to the
schools in a special way. Based on the belief that teachers in Oakwood are exceptional and give much of
themselves for the betterment of the children in our community, the Parker Award honors teachers who go
above and beyond what is expected of them.
Each year the award honors one Oakwood teacher who uniquely inspires the full potential of each student with
whom he or she works. Eligible teachers will have taught in the Oakwood District for at least five years and
can be nominated by parents, students, community members, alumni, faculty members and administrators.
The award consists of a $1,200 prize, which is divided between the recipient and an academic department,
grade or program of the recipient’s choosing.
Nominations and letters of support are retained for one year. If the candidate is not selected as the winner, the
nominator is required to simply submit the current nomination form and the candidate will be reconsidered.
How to Nominate for Parker Love of Teaching award
Each year the Parker Love of Teaching and Lifelong Learning Award honors an Oakwood teacher who goes above and beyond what is expected of them. In 2010, former Oakwood teacher Bev Parker created the award in memory of her late husband Bob Parker, saying the her family wanted to give back to the schools in a special way.
Since that time, eight deserving teachers have received the award, consisting of a $1,200 prize, which is divided between the recipient and the teacher’s school, and framed artwork designed by a senior art student. Past winners are: Janet Block (Lange), Kathy Allan (OJHS), Tony Rainsberger (OHS), Ron Nelson (All buildings), Susan Kuntz (Harman), John Edwards (Harman), Nate Thompson (Smith) and Lynne Irwin (Smith).
Parent, students, community members, alumni and Oakwood staff members can nominate any teacher who meets the criteria.
You can read the stories of all of our previous winners on the Archives page