April 2019

Tenikka Parker: A Story of Determination, Perseverance, and Grit

As an 8 year old girl, Tenikka Parker had aspirations to one day have her own classroom and teach her own students. After just a year at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, life circumstances changed Tenikka’s plans and took her in a different direction. Several years and four kids later, despite her doubt in herself, Tenikka stepped up to take one more chance at achieving her dream. After enrolling in Southwest Community College and obtaining an Associate of Science in Teaching degree, she was determined to achieve her dream of being a teacher.

Tenikka transferred to the University of Memphis’ Ready2Teach program where she was immersed in a classroom with an expert mentor for a full year. The program prepared her with the knowledge and skills to teach content-rich lessons, build relationships, provide engaging instruction, and be a reflective practitioner who was committed to continuous improvement.    

As Tenikka reflected on her preparation experience, she recalled the important support she received from her site coordinator describing her as a “guide” and “coach.” She also commented on the qualities of her mentor teacher. “My mentor teacher was there to model for me and provide me with feedback and instructional strategies. Like my site coordinator, she consistently encouraged me and gave me the critical feedback I needed to increase my teaching effectiveness.” 

Now, as she is completing her full-year student teaching at Robert R. Church Elementary in the Shelby County School district, Tenikka sees teaching as a vehicle to inspire her students. “If I can help and uplift my students and make them feel like they can do anything and prepare them to do anything, I know then I will feel like an accomplished teacher,” Parker said. Tenikka has recently been hired at Robert R. Church Elementary as a 3rd-grade social studies and science teacher.

Just recently, Tenikka was notified that she is the recipient of the H.E. Rumble Outstanding Teacher Candidate of the Year award. This award recognizes teachers who have demonstrated excellent knowledge and skills in the classroom.  Tenikka formally accepted the award on April 14th at the President’s Honor Assembly at the University of Memphis.

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