From Forest Ridge Student to Faculty
Zarina Parpia ’99, High School Faculty

By Zarina Parpia ’99, High School Faculty

As a 1999 graduate of Forest Ridge, it has been a delight to join the faculty as the Business teacher at Forest Ridge. Teaching juniors and seniors, I am transported back to my own upper-class days at Forest Ridge. The high school building and the Sacred Heart Center weren’t built yet. The high school lounge sat next to the cafeteria (now a more-stately “The Commons”) where the 8th-grade lounge resides now. Josalyn Alston Ford ’99 returned to guest speak at my class and noticed that while the lounge had changed location, the 20-something-year-old boom box, managed by the senior class, is still the same. The laptop program had begun while I was a sophomore, with the classes one or two years below me. My younger sister received a laptop; I did not. I did not feel disappointed by this, however. I was glad not to have to learn how to use this newfangled device and pleased that my high school years would continue in a more traditional way. 

Now, it would be hard for me to imagine Forest Ridge without its laptops. The seamless integration of technology into communication, teaching, and learning impress me, as do the technological skills and capacities of the students. Technology also makes my life as a teacher easier (most of the time). 

The business students have shown themselves to be diligent, curious, and engaged in learning real-world skills. They’ve enhanced their presentation skills and learned to negotiate, some driving hard bargains when determining which of them will walk away with a larger (simulated) share of $2. They participated in a stock market challenge by choosing stocks and watching their portfolios grow. Most of them ended up beating the market by significant margins. I cautioned them that this is unlikely to happen in real life! Most of my career has been in the field of management consulting. Managing a classroom of teenagers is my biggest management challenge yet. I think it likely that I am learning as much or more than my students.

It is also interesting to now work alongside teachers who once taught me. It’s hard for me to remember to call my freshman English teacher “Judy” instead of “Ms. Pettet.” Sr. O’Dea, my junior and senior English teacher, guest taught business writing to one of my classes and it was a joyful and somewhat surreal experience to watch my students learning from my former teacher. In fact, becoming a teacher at Forest Ridge has reminded me of how much I took for granted as a student, and how much I didn’t know was happening behind the scenes. This has spurred me on to write to former teachers to thank them for what they’ve done for me. While many of the teachers have changed in the 21 years since I graduated, what hasn’t changed is the community, the care, and the felt sense of family that I remember so well as a student, and which I have now reconnected with as an adult. Forest Ridge is a special place, and I am glad to be back.

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