Malcolm Parker juggles family, teaching and non-profit organization on way to M.A. in secondary biology

Malcolm Parker
Courtesy Malcolm Parker Enterprises

To say Malcom Parker has a busy life is a massive understatement. Graduating today with a Master of Arts in Teaching from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, Parker has also been teaching at a local high school while completing his certification in Secondary Biology at UAH.

If that weren’t enough, he is supporting a young family and is the founder of Malcolm Parker Enterprises, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on serving its community through “education, mission and ministry.”

Just how does he do it?

“With great sacrifice, three to four hours of sleep each night, and the grace of God,” Parker says. “I've been teaching fulltime at Huntsville High School while completing my certification, making this my sixth year teaching. I have been married to my wife Carla since 2014. I want to thank her for her steadfast love and support throughout this process. I love her with all my heart! And our union is blessed with our four-year-old son, Jeremiah. Carla is finishing the LPN to RN bridge program at Drake State Community College this December, while I have been a full-time student in the MAT program in the College of Education. I am a graphic designer (Micah's Touch Graphic Design/Excell Creatives) and President of my own non-profit organization, Malcolm Parker Enterprises, Inc, as well.”

In addition to all this, Parker serves the community as an elder in his church, Victory World Outreach Ministries, and is a member of the 100 Black Men of Greater Huntsville.

“I also serve Huntsville High as school mentor for students and as Advisor for the Cap & Gown Project O36 Club and Biology Club,” he says. “I have always given my life to serving others. Many of my friends say, ‘I don't know how you did it.’ It was Jesus. I would never be able to do all that I do to serve others without Him.”

Growing up in Augusta, GA, Parker says his love of teaching “began as a child when I would play school with my older cousin, Rahsheedah. On our last phone call before she passed away in 2021, she laughed so hard because she was always the teacher, and I'm the one who became a teacher.”

He found a special mentor at Hephzibah High School named Lori Hoover, who recently passed away as well, who helped him carry that early dream forward. “I was enrolled in a teacher cadet course with Ms. Hoover. She handpicked me as one of the first students to take the course. Each week we would prepare a lesson to teach to the elementary school students. I really enjoyed going to reading to the second-grade students each week.”

After high school, Parker received a full academic scholarship as a Pre-Med Biology student to Alabama A&M, but found most of his free time was spent as a substitute teacher for Huntsville City Schools.

“I wasn't just the ‘baby-sitter’ sub,” he notes. “I actually came to teach and was offered many long-term assignments. Needless to say, by the time I needed to study for the MCAT, I was looking for ways to enroll in a fifth-year program to follow my true passion as an educator. However, my dream did not come true right away. After graduation, I applied to teach in Huntsville City Schools on an emergency certification in 2013 but was denied after the interview because I was not already certified. Four years later, the door opened for me to as a biology teacher. The next year, I enrolled into the MAT program at UAH. I have been living the dream ever since!”

That dream did not come without the need to hurdle any number of additional obstacles as well, however. “Working fulltime as a teacher and going to school fulltime is not for the faint of heart,” Parker admits. “There are some days it takes everything I have just to make it through the day. I remember halfway through the program, I was registered but could not find funding to pay for summer classes. So, I just prayed about it and continued teaching full time. Then the pandemic hit. I taught every day through the entire pandemic but could not go back to school. I searched for aid, but nothing turned up. However, one Sunday at church my pastor said to the congregation, ‘Some of you have some debts that are preventing you from moving forward. God is going to cancel some debts by this Wednesday.’ I woke up the next morning and a little voice said, ‘Go check the debt!’ I got up and checked my UAH account to find the amount I owed was covered by student debt relief. I cried and rejoiced! I could finally finish my degree and continue doing what I loved.”

Parker is quick to recognize the impact his instructors and his time at UAH have made to his daily teaching methods.

“I would have to recognize all of my education teachers at UAH,” he says. “Nothing would have been possible without them. Everything I learned in each course, I would immediately go apply in my classroom. They all have made a significant impact on who I am as an educator. I have to make mention of my Advisor and Secondary Science Methods teacher, Dr. Sandra Lampley. I refer to her as "The Lamp" because she always has some bright idea that I would never think of using in the classroom. She is full of inspiration and wisdom and is one of the kindest people I have ever met. She has always inspired me to be the best educator that I can be. I want to publicly thank her for making me feel seen at UAH, for supporting and encouraging me when times were hard, and for being available whenever I needed her.

“With each course I have taken at UAH, I have immediately gone back to implement these changes in my classroom,” the graduate says. “I have also taken a liking to creating my own worksheets. Sometimes, it’s hard to find assignments that will rigorously engage students, so I began creating my own. I especially have loved turning those ‘cookbook’ lab experiments into engaging inquiry-based lab exercises, like my new Macromolecule Murder Mystery Lab. In this interactive lab, the students learn about how scientists test for the presence of macromolecules in an unknown substance. Then they use their skills to gather evidence and act as a professional witness to prove a given suspect innocent or guilty.”

As for his plans now that he is graduating, this human whirlwind doesn’t see himself slowing down one bit – well, maybe a little for “a real good time of rest and relaxation. I've earned it!” Parker says. “I plan to take some time to travel with my wife and son. Then, I want to go to real estate school. Finally, I plan to continue in education and eventually become a principal. Who knows, I may go on to work on the district level! One thing is for sure, I would continue to work to be an advocate for teachers and students and to bring innovation, change and equity to the world of education.”