Marith Parton
Marith Parton grew up in Carpinteria and now teaches at Carpinteria Middle School. (Santa Barbara County Education Office photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on the teachers who will be honored Nov. 2 at A Salute to Teachers, presented by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. Click here for a complete series index.]

Raised in Carpinteria, Marith Parton is devoted to her local roots and community, and she demonstrates it daily as a teacher at Carpinteria Middle School. Now in her sixth year of teaching in the Carpinteria Unified School District, she’ll be honored as a 2020 Santa Barbara County Distinguished Mentor.

Parton grew up in a family of teachers, so education was a major part of her upbringing and values. From early on, she was an active volunteer working with children and as a tutor, and she earned her teaching credential at California State University Long Beach.

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At Carpinteria Middle School, Parton serves as a department chairwoman, is a leader in the school’s PLC, and has been instrumental in leading changes in curriculum instruction, moving the school forward academically and socially.

She is frequently sought out for advice and support from colleagues. One said she often steps outside Parton’s classroom to listen to how she relates to her students, noting that it helps get herself realigned in her own classroom.

Eight educators will be recognized Nov. 2 at A Salute to Teachers, an event hosted by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office at the Music Academy of the West in Montecito.

Michele Frantz of Joe Nightingale School in the Orcutt Union School District has been named the 2020 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year.

Bree Jansen, a dance, choreography and cheerleading teacher at Lompoc High in the Lompoc Unified School District, will be honored as the 2020 Santa Barbara County Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Distinguished new educators to be honored are Anthony Bruemmer of Santa Ynez School in the College School District, Melanie Thatcher of Miguelito School in the Lompoc Unified School District and Michael Wallace of El Camino Junior High School in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District.

Along with Parton, distinguished mentors are Marilyn Tilley of Battles School in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District and Amy Willis of Los Olivos School in the Los Olivos School District.

In addition to Cox, Salute to Teachers is sponsored by Noozhawk, Anthem Blue Cross, Fielding Graduate University, Montecito Bank & Trust, the Santa Barbara Bowl and the SBCC Foundation.

Noozhawk Q&A

Noozhawk: Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Marith Parton: I have always known I wanted to be a teacher. I would go to my older brother’s kindergarten class, and I was amazed by the energy of a classroom. I had the same teacher, Miss Marsha Ota, when I started school, and I knew that I wanted to be teacher.

Throughout school, I also had many amazing teachers who helped me decide to be a teacher, like Mrs. Angela White and Mrs. Kelly Pierce.

Noozhawk: How long have you been teaching?

MP: This is my sixth year teaching, but I substitute taught for a year and a half prior to finding a full time job.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite subject or lesson plan to teach your students?

MP: I love using poetry as a vehicle for teaching literary theory, analysis skills and critical thinking skills. I have students compare “classic works” of poetry with contemporary songs, and, from there, they apply literary theories.

For example, we read “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath and “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara, while using feminist/gender theories to analyze the deeper meaning of the texts.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

MP: I love working with students. They make me laugh, and they make me want to be a better person each day. I also love working with my colleagues. Everyone brings such a unique perspective, and, through collaboration, we are able to solve difficult problems.

Noozhawk: What are the challenges of your job?

MP: The biggest challenge I face is not having enough time to support every student.

Noozhawk: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

MP: I am looking forward to watching my students grow and develop as humans.

Noozhawk: Who are your mentors?

MP: My mentors are my parents, my sister, my colleagues, my boyfriend and my students. I learn so much from all different kinds of people, which is very humbling and wonderful.

Noozhawk: Who are the people in your life and work environment who support you every day?

MP: My colleagues are really the backbone to my work life. The relationships we have built really create a steady source of trust. Of course, my family, my boyfriend and friends provide a lot of support, as well.

Noozhawk: How does it feel to be honored as part of the Salute to Teachers?

MP: I am so humbled to be honored because I know there are so many other deserving mentors!

Noozhawk: Is there anything else you wish to share?

MP: Thank you to Jessica Gala, my candidate, for nominating me for my award.