Barely two years ago, Shelbyville Central Schools was among a few districts nationwide selected to participate in the Educators Leading the Profession (ELP) mentor-mentee pilot program. Now, two SCS teachers are the face of the initiative. Veteran Shelbyville Middle School math teacher Marijo Snow and special education teacher Drew Parsley recently traveled to Chicago to be the featured mentor-mentee pair in a video shoot.
The program included multiple mentor faculty members providing guidance and encouragement to those newer to the profession. Snow, who went to school with Parsley’s mother and once worked with his grandmother, connected naturally with her mentee.
“We’re from the same community and grew up in the community we teach in,” she said.
That bond extends to their students.
“Not only are we teaching kids, we’re teaching kids from the community that we love and are proud of,” she said.
“We’re invested,” Parsley added.
Rotating between SMS and Shelbyville High School the last three years, Parsley recognized the need to be uber organized. He created a daily schedule with Snow’s input, and she purchased colored pens for him to code his various meetings. They met weekly to identify and overcome potential obstacles. These days, Parsley shares his learned strategies with others.
“He’s fully capable of being a mentor now,” Snow said. “I love how positive he is, and (ELP administrators) did too. Drew is a great listener, but also a great presenter, so he stuck out in their minds as somebody who would be good (to be featured).”
Early this month, the pair traveled downtown Chicago for a program dinner and to be filmed by two-time Emmy Award-winning producer Steven Walsh. That, in itself, was an experience.
“It reminded me of the old Pearson school,” Parsley said, describing the K-8 school where the three-hour shoot took place, which was complete with “And Action!” calls and numerous takes. Even the air conditioner was shut off to prevent background noise, leaving them sweating in high humidity.
“Now I know how the movie stars feel,” Snow said, laughing.
One segment features the pair walking down stairs while talking, but without audio. They were instructed to chat about any topic for the cameras.
“We made up songs about the different people in the room,” Snow said.
“Everybody in the room,” Parsley emphasized. “Including the ELP executive director.”
Despite the sweltering heat, the local teachers did what they do best: connect with others.
“We’re just people from Shelbyville, Indiana, who did what we were supposed to do,” Snow said. “We went to the meetings and worked hard as mentor-and-mentee.”
Near the conclusion of filming, they were each instructed to face the camera and give a message about the other.
“I was tearing up,” Snow said.
“Yeah, it was heartfelt,” Parsley agreed.
Although the program has concluded for them, Snow and Parsley are continuing their connection.
“It’s not like Drew just learned from me. I learned from Drew,” Snow said.
And they both noted the importance of SCS administration support, including assistant superintendent Kathleen Miltz, who applied for the district to participate in the pilot program.
“It’s all because of her,” Snow said.