Professor Achieves 40-Plus Years of Teaching Excellence
Dr. Alfred L. Parks is the College of Agriculture and Human Science’s (CAHS) 2018 Outstanding Faculty Member. It’s no wonder – this is his 42nd year teaching at Prairie View A&M University. He started back in the ‘70s as an associate professor and department head in the CAHS. “When I started in this profession, I never dreamed that I would do it for this long,” said Parks. “I often get asked, ‘Are you retired?’ or, ‘When are you going to retire?’ My answer, of course, is, ‘Why retire?’ I’m enjoying the best years of my career.”
Parks, a professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness at PVAMU, started teaching in Louisiana in 1972. When asked what’s changed over the years, he said the students. “The newer generations are not as attentive, and I think that has a lot to do with technology. You have to keep them engaged, keep the classroom interactive, otherwise they become distracted,” said Parks. “Group activities and group projects help. Also, Quick Questions. That’s when you ask a question from the lecture in the middle of class. It keeps the students on their toes and gets their juices flowing. It helps me too,” he chuckled.
And, although generations are continually transforming, Parks says there is one thing that has remained the same, students need nurturing. “The act of nurturing goes a long way in developing students. You must first instill in them that you care about them and their future. That is the foundation upon which Prairie View A&M University was built,” said Parks. “Secondly, I’m motivated by my students. I always have been. I get excited each day when I teach my classes. I also get excited when I see growth and development in my students. They come as freshmen, from all different backgrounds, with many of them being the first in their family to go to college. When I see them start to grow, start to come around my office more, and we engage in life conversations, I try to ingrain in them that they can achieve far beyond what they dream or imagine. That’s when I realize there is a divine purpose for me. And that purpose is teaching.”
-This story by Marchita Shilo originally appeared in Academic Insights.