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Parker School Headmaster Announces Retirement

June 4, 2020, 12:40 PM HST
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Carl Surges, Parker School Headmaster

Parker School’s headmaster is retiring after 37 years in education.

Carl Sturges, headmaster at Waimea’s private school for 18 years, will leave the little red schoolhouse on Friday. Sturges, Parker’s seventh and longest-serving headmaster to date.

“I accepted a one-year contract as Headmaster for the fall of 2002,” he said. “As they say, the rest is history.”

Under Sturges’ direction,  Parker experienced significant growth and achievements including adding grades K-6 into new facilities; more than doubled enrollment from 130 students in 2002 to over 300 students in 2019-20; expanded program offerings by adding advanced placement courses, performing arts, debate, elective classes, interim and additional sports; and recruited quality educators to support a more academically rigorous curriculum.

In addition, Sturges maintained and improved historic buildings once owned by Parker Ranch; gained greater financial stability with the merger of the Parker Ranch Trust in 2015; and acquired additional land to grow the school’s campus from 4.5 acres to 23 acres.

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Along with these many milestones, big challenges also faced the little red schoolhouse over the last 20 years, including the economic downturn from 2008-2011.

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“The fact that we are now thriving is rather astonishing,” Sturges said.

Today, Parker School is known statewide for many of the programs started under his tenure including strong academics, debate, performing and visual arts, and a nurturing lower school program. “It means something to be a Bull.”

“Carl’s legacy to our school is unparalleled in its history, and I do believe I am uniquely qualified to make this claim,” said long-time Parker School English teacher, Kiyoshi Najita.  “What he has contributed to the school’s academic reputation, the facilities and programs he has built, and the enduring impact he has had on how people react when they hear the name Parker School will be long remembered and revered.”

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His final months as Headmaster looked very different than what Sturges could ever have imagined. On March 13, Parker transitioned all 314 students in grades K-12 nearly overnight to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These past three months don’t look a great deal like the way I imagined my departure, but it has been inspiring the way our school ‘ohana has pulled together to keep our students and staff safe and continuing to learn,” Sturges said. “I will very much miss this very special group of people.”

Comparing his career at Parker School to the idea that performance art lives entirely in a fleeting moment, Sturges shares, “I was able to run a school that I’m proud of while it existed in a particular place and time. I loved it while it was happening and am thankful for the many memories.”

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