Bryant plans to retire after 30+ years at Parkwood
One thing people love about Parkwood is the strong community feeling you get when you’ve been on the campus or to one of the school sponsored events. That environment does not develop overnight. It is built as families continue to send their students to the same school that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents attended over the years. It happens when teachers choose to teach at the same school they attended when they were students. And it happens when teachers choose to stay at Parkwood for over 30 years because they love the community and want to see the students of that community succeed.
One such teacher, who has been at Parkwood for many years and touched many lives, is Mitch Bryant. Bryant first started teaching at Parkwood in 1985. Jobs were scarce in West Virginia so he chose to come to Union County seeking a position. His first position at Parkwood was teaching Horticulture and Animal Science, but for the past 20 years he has been teaching AG Mechanics. Over the past 30+ years of teaching at Parkwood, Bryant’s love of helping students learn and master new skills in the shop has not changed. He still believes that the skills students learn through hands on activities is the most effective way of learning. One thing that has changed however, is the increased computer usage related to the work industry.
Elijah Funderburk, current chapter secretary for FFA and student in Mr. Bryant’s Ag Mechanics 2 class, seems to agree that hands on learning is the best way of receiving instruction. Elijah says he was recently seeking information on how to use a cutting torch. As most students do, he turned to YouTube to better understand the process. Unfortunately, those videos didn’t help him find the answers he was looking for. He then turned to Mr. Bryant who was able to give him the information he needed. “He just makes things so simple and easy to understand,” Elijah says.
Many students are first introduced to the work Bryant does as 3rd graders through Wake Up to AG Day, an event hosted by Parkwood each year for local 3rd graders to learn how important agriculture is to our society. Bryant says that some of his students will talk about the memories they have of AG Day, as a 3rd grader, and now they are the ones hosting the event. It is definitely a community event which grows memories for a lifetime.
Bryant has touched many lives over the years. Ali Martins, current chapter vice president for FFA, says, “Mr. Bryant understands us. He has so much experience in life which he brings to the classroom. We look up to him like a grandfather figure.” Again, he brings that family atmosphere to Parkwood. Elizabeth Bartell, Career Development Coordinator, also sees the great things Bryant has brought to the table over the years. She says, “Mr. Bryant has been amazing to work with over the last 5 years, that I have been at Parkwood. He has had a major impact on all of the students he teaches. He has a huge heart and is such a positive role model for our students. I have been blessed to know him as a teacher and a friend. He will be missed by us all.”
As the end of the year draws near, Bryant is checking things off his list like AG Day, which he will not experience, as a teacher, anymore. That’s because after 34 years of teaching, he plans to retire at the end of this school year. Bryant says God has blessed him with a good career and now he looks forward to hunting, fishing, traveling, visiting family and doing “whatever I want to. After all, I am retired.” He says he will miss the dedicated and hard working staff at Parkwood with whom he has built friendships and a family atmosphere.
Congratulations Mr. Bryant! Parkwood has been blessed to have you and you will be missed!