Spotlight: Adam Parvanta (ME '19)March 4, 2020
Tech powerhouse Adam Parvanta (ME ’19) likes helping students hone important skills and refine their creative vision as they produce their own video content: “It’s awesome to see the look of accomplishment on their faces when they finally finish a huge project.” He won Maine’s 2019-20 Milken Educator Award at Gorham High School on October 30, 2019.
Milken Family Foundation: Why is videography such an important skill to share with students?
Adam Parvanta (ME ’19): Possessing fundamental skills in videography and content creation will be a huge asset for students beyond high school. Aside from having a creative vision, video production involves planning, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and more. I don’t expect every student to be Steven Spielberg, but if they’re able to communicate effectively through video, it could open new opportunities for them down the road.
MFF: Tell us about some of the videos you’ve produced for Gorham High School (GHS). What’s your mission?
Adam: One I’m very proud of would be the Unified Basketball video series. It highlights the games and interactions of student athletes with special needs and their student athlete partners. I enjoy working on the Adopt-A-Classroom videos that cover high school students who visit elementary school students and engage them in activities to think about future careers. I also really like working one-on-one with students who are producing their own content and take the process seriously. It’s awesome to see the look of accomplishment on their faces when they finally finish a huge project and watch it back for the first time.
MFF: What brought you to teaching?
Adam: Prior to graduating from high school, I had to choose between going to college for television production or becoming an educator. At the time, I was mentoring at an elementary school. That experience ultimately tilted me towards pursuing a career in education.
MFF: What do you like about high school students?
Adam: Working with high school students is really interesting. They’re still at an age where they get genuinely excited about things while being mature enough to work alongside as young professionals. They’re able to collaborate and make the experience fun. Maintaining a sense of humor is very important.
MFF: When you work with your colleagues to integrate technology into their classrooms, what are you trying to help them achieve?
Adam: My primary goal is for teachers and staff to find real value and enjoyment in utilizing technology in their curriculum. When they find something they really like, those ideas and activities can flow throughout the department and influence their colleagues to hop on board.
MFF: Who are your role models?
Adam: Jim Guillemette was my high school physics teacher. He struck a great balance between conducting an interesting curriculum and maintaining an environment where the students took the content seriously. He genuinely cared about students’ well-being and strove to be the best teacher he could. “Dr. G” was fun to be around because of his incredibly positive personality.
MFF: How was your first year in the classroom?
Adam: It was pretty exhausting. I may have hit the ground running a little too hard. Looking back on it, my favorite parts were working on projects with students and seeing how happy they were to accomplish a large undertaking. Certainly the most challenging part was trying to accommodate so many needs and requests. It’s very easy to spread yourself thin.
MFF: How did you feel at your surprise Milken Educator Award notification?
Adam: At first I didn’t believe it. It didn’t feel real. As everything began to set in, I became pretty overwhelmed. I do vividly remember the roar of the crowd and the excitement on their faces.
MFF: How have your students reacted to your Milken Award?
Adam: The students were more excited about it than I was. I’m not one for praise, but it was really nice to see how happy that whole event made them. They still talk about it.
MFF: Any plans for the $25,000?
Adam: I donated my Award to the Gorham Educational Foundation (GEF). They provide funds for teachers who need supplies and equipment that may go beyond a basic classroom curriculum. Since budgets are tight, teachers can’t expect to have all their projects funded. The GEF looks for projects that “will engage students and help them learn and think in imaginative and innovative ways.” I figured that my Award money could be stretched a lot further and have more of an impact by helping teachers and students in my district through the GEF.
MFF: How do you define “success” for yourself and your students?
Adam: I see success in the results of my work, and the work of the students I collaborate with. When a project affects the school and our community in a positive way, and people are genuinely happy, that’s success for me. When students show real pride after spending 20-plus hours editing a piece of content, seeing the value of all the time they’ve invested, that’s success for me.
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