Former engineer, a first-year teacher, loves his new profession

William Parton watches his students work in the seventh grade

Five months after William Parton began his job as a full-time
teacher, there’s no doubt where he’ll be next year. Asked if he’d
ever return to his old job as a mechanical engineer, Parton
responded quickly.
Gilroy – Five months after William Parton began his job as a full-time teacher, there’s no doubt where he’ll be next year. Asked if he’d ever return to his old job as a mechanical engineer, Parton responded quickly.

“Not in two million years,” he said. “I have yet to have a day where I go home and don’t want to come back in the morning.”

Parton, a quiet, mild-mannered 25-year-old, teaches computers, math and life skills classes to sixth- and seventh-graders at Ascencion Solorsano Middle School. He and his wife, Holly, a teacher at Brownell Academy, moved from Michigan to Gilroy in 2003 after Parton was laid off from his engineering job.

After moving to Gilroy, Parton enrolled in a joint credential and masters degree program and began substitute teaching in the Gilroy Unified School District. Since accepting the job at Solorsano, Parton said his life has been a whirlwind of teaching, studying and learning – some about his students, and some about himself.

The biggest challenge has been learning how to adapt to each student, but still remain in control of the classroom as a whole, Parton said. Part of that effort has included studying each student’s data such as scores from standardized tests, which help teachers identify areas in which different students struggle.

“If there are 30 students in a class, then there’s 30 different ways to teach the material,” Parton said. “They all come from different families and they all have potential, but they all have a different background to present it with.”

Teaching such a wide variety of students keeps Parton busy, but it also keeps him having fun. One of his favorite parts of the job is when students tell him what’s going on in their lives, in other classes and outside of school.

“I love it when a student shares how a hobby is going, or tells me about improvements they’ve made in language arts, or asks if I’m going to be at a basketball game,” Parton said.

Near the beginning of the school year, when The Dispatch first profiled Parton, he said the most surprising thing he noticed coming into the job was the strong support and training he received from the school’s administration and his fellow teachers. Five months later, Parton said, that sense of camaraderie still amazes him.

Besides meeting on a regular basis with other teachers to discuss lesson plans and ask questions, Parton also participates in Solorsano’s peer observation program, where teachers sit in on other teachers’ classes. The observations serve as reverse feedback, Parton said, helping new teachers discover different ways of teaching and seeing how students respond.

“There’s no such thing as being a loner when you’re a teacher,” Parton said. “You must be able to interact, take suggestions and also take compliments.”

Although the lighter moments and fun times exist, Parton admitted the job occasionally is more stressful than he initially assumed. But, he quickly added, it’s a different kind of stress – a good kind, if there is such a thing – because he knows all of his work is for the good of his students.

“With engineering, I could go home and leave everything in the computer,” he said. “But with teaching, it’s definitely full-time in the sense that on weekends, you think about the kids, and you go to the games at night during the week.”

Parton also tutors twice a week after school in the Solorsano’s Extreme Learning program. Next year, he plans to continue teaching at Solorsano and said he’s looking forward to seeing the school expand to include eighth grade. The school is in its second year of operation.

Seventh-graders Molly Goldsmith and Madison Gonzalez, both in Parton’s computer class, said their teacher is a bright spot in their day.

“He’s really funny. He jokes a lot. He’s really easy to get along with,” Molly said. “We’re learning how to open stuff and save stuff on the computer. And – oh, yeah – we’re learning about this thing called PowerPoint, too. It’s really cool.”

The one thing the two students don’t like about Parton?

“Sometimes he calls us turkeys,” said Madison, giggling.

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