English teacher shares passion for subject, students

Jada Boprie, Feature Editor

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I only had a short time to interview Mr. Deven Parrish, but even with the time crunch it was easy to understand why his students like him so much. Besides his significant height advantage and his much more impressive resume, he’s just like any of the kids who walk through his classroom door every day.

Parrish has been teaching English at Howell High School for nine years, this year alternating between sophomore English and AP English. However, he had planned on majoring in computer science when walking into Michigan State.

“I changed my major on day one. I just got it in my head, ‘I should be an English teacher,’” Parrish says.

When I start to ask the more standard interview questions about the tricks of his trade, it’s clear just how much Parrish loves what he does.

What do you like most about teaching?

It sounds so cliché, but the kids make the job so fun. Spending my time with people who are discovering the world is so rewarding.

What’s the biggest challenge in teaching?

Figuring out how to motivate the kids who don’t want to learn and trying to balance the energy to each kind.

Do you still find teaching as rewarding as when you first started?

More so. I feel like I get better every year. It’s definitely a learn-on-the- job experience.

What causes you the most anxiety about teaching?

Only the first day. If I can get through the first day I’m not anxious about anything else.

It’s when I ask Parrish questions about his hobbies that he sounds less like a 33-year-old teacher and more like an easygoing teenager.

“I taught myself how to play piano by watching Youtube videos,” he says.

I learned that not only does he play the piano and guitar, he also builds and flies model airplanes, gardens, and plays video games.

Throughout the interview, he had played the role of the dedicated teacher with an inner teenager side, and just a hint of his writer side when he told me he’s writing a book.

Can you tell me anything about the book you are writing, like how long you’ve been working on it, and what inspired you to write it?

I’ve been working on it for almost two years now. It’s a fantasy/science fiction crossover (in that order), a risky move that could alienate fans of either genre. It’s worth the risk though. It started off as a short story. I was inspired by a stray and somewhat random vision of an event our society is familiar with, but in a different context could make for an interesting scenario. Sorry to be so cryptic, but that particular inspiring event won’t find its way into the series until the third book or so.

Has there been anything your students have taught you that you wouldn’t have learned outside the classroom?

My students have taught me that simple patience can be the difference between failure and success. It’s perhaps a bit cliché, but in our instant-gratification society, patience has been relegated to the back burner. It’s an amazing tool though.

A lot of students like having you as a teacher. Why do you think you connect with them so well?

I think I connect because I never really fully grew up myself. That’s not to say I’m immature (but can’t we all be some times?). It means I remember very well what it was like to be that age. I feel like I understand and respect what my students have to deal with on a daily basis and try not to get in the way of their experiences. I try to be an asset, not an obstacle.

Despite the clarity and thoughtfulness of Parrish’s answers, he slips back into teen-mode at the end, adding this at the bottom of his email.

“I’m obsessed with the Dark Souls video game series. Best fantasy RPG game series ever made. Hands down.”

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