New Nevis superintendent is ‘straight down the middle’
By Nick Longworth
Nevis Superintendent Gregg Parks might be the new guy in town, but he’s been there before.
Parks was originally born in Sacramento, Calif., to a father who was in the Air Force. As a result of his father’s military commitment his family moved around quite a bit throughout his childhood.
He lived in the Philippines, Japan and Texas before his father retired, and the family settled down in Minnesota where his mother was from: Sebeka.
He joined the military after high school as a way to help pay for college. It’s a decision that he is proud of, as he remains in active service for the National Guard to this day.
A Moorhead State University graduate, he earned an undergraduate degree in social studies and coaching. Fresh out of college, his first job teaching was at Clearbrook-Gonvick.
At the time the schools were beginning a merger to become one district, and were separate schools. He taught there for two years, but when the merger forced the schools to combine staff, Parks became a cost-cutting casualty.
“(The superintendent) helped me get an interview in Walker and in 1991 I started teaching there,” Parks said.
He taught social studies in Walker for the next 17 years while also coaching different athletics such as football, track and basketball.
In 2004, he was in-between deployments with the military, having been to Bosnia from 2003-04. He was notified that he would soon be deployed to Iraq from 2005-07.
When he returned, Parks finished his graduate degree in administration. From 2008-10 he was principal in Laporte. Parks became the assistant principal for Bemidji Middle School from 2010-14.
He applied for the Nevis superintendent position this spring.
“I have 33 years of leadership experience in the military. I have been at levels where I was responsible for 30 people, and I’ve been at levels where I was responsible for 2,000 people working in multinational and dangerous environments,” Parks said. “Each step of the way I have found that I was very calm and deliberate. Most of the people who work with me would say that there are not a whole lot of highs or lows – I’m pretty straight down the middle. But they will also tell you that I am a person who gets things done.”
When the Nevis Superintendent position became available after long-time superintendent Steve Rassier decided to retire, Parks saw a fitting opportunity.
“When this position became available I thought ‘what a great fit.’ I saw an opportunity to move into a school that is doing exceptionally well,” he said. “We have a great staff, and it’s in a fantastic location. I was also encouraged by some of the community members as well. All of that kind of played in the calculus of making the decision.”
Going from monitoring 1,200 students to less than 600 is quite the difference in working environments.
Parks doesn’t see the new position as one that will be any easier simply because it’s in a considerably smaller district.
“It’s a smaller school, it’s growing and it’s facing a lot of challenges with growth on how you continue to deliver that great product to the community,” Parks said.
In his new role for nearly two months now, Parks says he does miss his days teaching in a classroom.
However, he sees the benefit of being able to help as many people as he can as too much to pass-up.
“I enjoy being a teacher, a coach, and a mentor. Those are some of the three areas that I believe I excel at,” he said. “As an administrator, I get the opportunity to influence at a higher level. Now I can help make sure that we have all of the resources and all of the training necessary to get us to that highest level possible.”
A commissioned officer since 1988, he is still in the National Guard and so there remains the potential the he might be pulled away for duty. At this moment though, he doesn’t seem overly concerned at that possibility.
He now hopes to make Nevis the final stop along his long-winding career path.
“I definitely don’t see this as any kind of stepping stone. My perfect world scenario would be to retire years from now as the longest serving superintendent in Nevis history. I see it as an opportunity to establish a long-term presence in this community,” Parks said. “I am very loyal to the community that I am working in, and I am not looking for anything else. This is where I want to be.”
And when he retires as the longest standing superintendent in Nevis history?
“I hope they say that I’m fair and I am a compassionate person.”