By Jennifer Furrow Talon staff reporter
At 5:30 a.m., in his sleek slacks, belonging black or brown button up shirt, and occasional requisite tie, Vice Principal and morning person Nate Parson hops off his bike after a mile and a half ride from his home. He strolls into his high tech and eco-friendly office, takes a few sips of his favored beverage (water), and begins returning emails of active parents, teachers and staff. Once students start arriving, Parson retreats to the halls to greet students as they arrive and head to their classes.
His routine here at HRV looks similar to that of the one Parson followed during his administrative career in Mexico. Parson and Grace, his loyal wife, spent the past eight years living in Guadalajara, Mexico, “a city of seven million . . . about four and a half hours from the coast, and a five hour drive from Mexico City.” As an administrator at the American School of Guadalajara, Parson dedicated his time to projects and events benefiting the community and the students, which included starting and working in a soup kitchen. Two years after moving, the Parsons had Solomon, their first son. About three years later, Solomon was joined by Rainer, his little brother. In Mexico, the children indulged in traditional toys, like “monkey bars, slides, and a few climbing structures,” and indoor activities. The family was happy, healthy, and living in the 10th most populous city in Latin America..
After eight years, Nate Parson and his family were ready for a change, “The reason we came back from Mexico was to be closer to family,” Parson reports. Gace Parson is from Oregon, and her parents still live here. Moving back to her home state would allow more frequent visits with the family.
To narrow down the search, the Parsons came up with a list of criteria. “we started looking for a school and a place that would meet our needs, and one of those needs would be to have access to families and students who speak Spanish in their homes, and we immediately found that there’s many families here . . . That was the number one thing for us,” Parson reports. They were also looking for “a high school that was successful,” he continues, “Hood River Valley High school has a great reputation for academics, and more so for the relationships in the community that they build.” Parson wanted to be a part of that “vibrant community” and a part of a “school that is doing well.”
Another draw to Hood River and HRVHS was the outdoors. “It’s amazing the things you can do here,” Parson exclaims, “I have just begun to explore.” In his free time, Parson and his family enjoy running, skateboarding, playing soccer, biking, hiking, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Parson also enjoys riding his unicycle. Solomon and Rainer also love the creative toys down at the waterfront park as well as the freedom they have gained because of the safety of the area.
When they aren’t outside having fun, the Parsons spend their time on other activities. The duel-citizenship boys of the family spend their time brush up on their Spanish with their bilingual nanny. Solomon also expands his mind while attending kindergarten at Westside. In which time, Parson spends his day on the HRVHS campus. During the time spent in his office, organizing, notes, documents, and files, talking to the staff, or returning emails, technology such as his Scansnap Scanner and Evernote lend him a hand to make his tasks “more efficient” meaning, faster, easier, and time and paper saving. He is also interested in video productions. When Parson isn’t in his office he can often be found strolling in the halls, clearing his head, and speaking to students. As a mid-ranged, triathlete high school student, Parson claims, “I want to help students have a similar experience. I want them to leave high school as they graduate and say “That was useful for me, but also to think that they felt like they were valued. So when I’m walking around the halls, I look for students who maybe are forgotten or left out one the side.” When he finds these students, Parson tries to find ways to encourage them and keep them on his radar.
Overall, Parson is happy to be here at HRV and plans on being here “indefinitely.” “I’m very impressed, especially with the students, the way they connect themselves, the way they help each other,” Parson continues, “I think students genuinely enjoy being with each other.” Not only is he impressed by our hallway habits, he’s even impressed with our parking lot behavior. “It’s rare that I will have a student try to cut in front of another one or put themselves above everyone else.” Parson concludes.
After school, Parson is working to open doors of communication, connection, and advancement. He believes that “one of the most important parts” of school is “students connecting with their teachers in a personal way,” and also he wants students “to be proud to be an Eagle..” Parson recognizes the creativity of the students and their ability to be “inspirational” to other schools. “What I would like to see is them spreading that out to more schools . . . and putting more stuff on the Web about what’s happening.” Parson explains. After school, Parson works on teacher and staff development as well as new programs. His primary focus is expanding AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) a college readiness program. He is also working to decrease the number of detentions and expulsion with collaborative problem solving. This is part of the behavioral programs which focuses on using dialogue between teachers and students to “not assuming the worst.”
At 6:30 pm, once the parking lot is clear and all his after school duties are complete, Parson hops back on his bike and rides home with a smile on his face.