( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Malissa Park’s New Book Inspires Youth by Telling the Story of Former US President Barack Obama
ENSPIRE Contributor: Cailin Tennis
Despite the recent limitations on teaching about race imposed by some state laws, Malissa Parks has published a new educational book. As a longtime educator, Malissa published ‘Hero 44’. The book offers an easy-to-read format for preschoolers and early readers, intending to help children to advance their reading skills. The book’s protagonist, Hero 44, is modeled after Barack Obama, from humble beginnings to rising as the first African American President of the United States.
This book is an excellent tool for teaching children about the importance of perseverance, hard work, and hope. Parks believes her book will have a positive impact on students in their early years of education. She says, “Young children need stories like Hero 44 to help them understand how to take on the world and the challenges they will face. This book will help them build their confidence and resilience.”
ENSPIRE was grateful to speak with Malissa about her inspiration for the book, her experience as an educator, and her insights into why teaching is such an irreplaceable service to our communities.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a model, author, and educator. I’ve obtained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master’s in Education. Of all these roles, I love teaching the most. Consequently, it shows that I have 16 years of experience. Recently, while trying to balance my other titles, I’ve become a substitute teacher.
What inspired you to write and publish this book?
My inspiration came from my admiration of the Obama Family. The Obamas accomplished what we all thought would be impossible and made history. It was a story that I thought needed to be told and recognized, my way.
As a longtime educator, what challenges have you faced in the classroom?
There are two challenges that I continue to face in the classroom. First, being innovative in trying to find new ways to keep my students engaged and interested. I know students need to be interested in learning. This enables them to effectively learn. Therefore, being a teacher who is engaging and fun makes a big difference. Secondly, it is challenging to have one-on-one time with each student. Ideally, I would like a check-in to see how they are adapting. Unfortunately, trying to give each student your undivided attention every week can be difficult. Especially when the class size is 25 students or more. Regardless of the challenge, I try.
What do you wish you could change about the teaching industry/education systems in the US?
What I would like to change is to let teachers teach! The majority of teachers are so involved in the curriculum’s paperwork, they’re being taken away from teaching. This can consume them and distract them from their purpose. In my opinion, teachers are hired to teach. Sadly, our students are at a disadvantage because of this.
Your book focuses on building children’s confidence and resilience. How have you used these values in your own life?
As a parent and educator, I’ve always taught my son and my students that they’re important. I emphasize that they’re loved, they’re smart, and they’re able to accomplish anything with education and determination. This can boost their confidence. Hence, I make a point to recite this with them, daily.
Are there any educators that inspired you or had a long-lasting impact on your life?
My sisters inspired me, being teachers themselves. I’m the baby of 12, and 4 of my sisters are teachers. We’ve all developed the same concept in teaching: building self-confidence and resilience in our students. Even more so, knowing that teaching is a gift and if you got it, flaunt it!
Malissa is a proud educator in Long Beach, California, and has always been passionate about children’s literature. Her previous work, including ‘I Like Being Brown and This Family,’ was recognized for its ability to educate and inspire children. Her latest book aims to help young readers develop their literacy skills while also offering valuable lessons related to leadership and pursuing their dreams. The book can help children to become lifelong learners, setting them up for success throughout their lives.
Malissa is a decorated and multi-faceted woman, who is inspiring students every day! Her professional success is driven by her strong personal values and moral integrity. ENSPIRE is excited to promote educators like Malissa who tirelessly serve our communities. For more information about Malissa Parks and Hero 44, visit her social media page. Hero 44 is now available for purchase in both print and digital formats.