“School is only a part of a child’s success. If parents don’t do their part, they won’t be successful,” said Bobby Jarrell, Itawamba County School District’s Parent of the Year.
A mathematics teacher at Itawamba Community College (ICC), Jarrell and his wife, Jennifer, a Special Education teacher in Columbus, started teaching their children to read early on.
“We taught our children to read at a very young age,” he said. “Learning wasn’t just about school.”
Zachary, the oldest of their four children, is a cadet in the U.S. Air Force. Graden, a junior at Itawamba Agricultural High School, recently scored a perfect 36 on his ACT. His younger brother, Gibson, a freshman, scored 33. Their seven-year-old daughter, Charlotte, attends Itawamba Attendance Center.
“We wanted to provide them with opportunities,” Jarrell said. “Anything they wanted to do that involved learning, we let them do it.”
Jarrell volunteers his time with the IAHS Scholars Bowl Team. He writes leader Chris Johnson a blank check when it comes to the needs of the team.
“Anytime he needs my help, I’m available,” he said. “It’s not hard to be motivated when you have teachers like Chris who pour their lives into their students.”
When it comes to teachers who make an impact, Jarrell doesn’t hesitate when talking about who his most influential teacher was: his former high school Algebra II instructor, Thomas Clayton.
“I teach math and do what I do because of him,” he said. “After one day in his class, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. If I had to name five people who changed my life forever, he would be one of them.”
It takes time, Jarrell said of the commitment to both parenting and teaching. While some parents may tackle something like analytic expressions, others might not be as comfortable helping their children in subject areas they are unfamiliar with or haven’t looked at in years. Jarrell says that’s where today’s vast expanse of information can help.
“Through the internet, there are so many resources available today for parents who might not be comfortable with helping their children in a particular subject,” he said. “For those who are willing, there is help.”
Jarrell believes that’s part of his job as a parent. After all, a child’s education doesn’t start or stop at the school doors.
“The schools have a responsibility,” he said. “So do we as parents.”