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October 9, 2017

Schools’ communications director to retire Jan. 1

“There are so many good stories in a school division,” Karen Parkinson says.
She’s always had her finger on the pulse of the school system. She will be very difficult to replace.
— Superintendent David Jeck
Karen Parkinson
• Age: 66

• Home: Culpeper.

• Family: Husband, Geary; two sons, Travis and Zachary; two granddaughters, Avery and Olive; daughter-in-law, Erika.

• Work: Coordinator of information, Fauquier County Public Schools, 2004 to present; public information officer, Culpeper County Public Schools, 1998-2004; part-time education and features reporter, Culpeper News, 1994-98; stay-at-home mom, 1991-94; public information specialist, public affairs officer, reporter and editor of “The Gator” newspaper, U.S. Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek in Norfolk, 1974-91.

• Education: Bachelor’s degree, English, Old Dominion University, 1973; Longwood College, 1969-71; Culpeper High School, 1969.

• Hobbies: Reading, photography, cooking, member and volunteer at Culpeper Baptist Church.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
After almost 14 years on the job, the Fauquier County Public Schools communications director last week announced her retirement.

Coordinator of Information Karen Parkinson will leave the post Jan. 1.

The second person to hold the position, Mrs. Parkinson earns $103,640 annually. Her predecessor left the job after six months.

She writes press releases and takes photos of school events, answers citizens’ questions and complaints, works with the media and helps administrators with projects, including development of the annual calendar and event planning.

“I love it,” Mrs. Parkinson says. “I believe strongly in public education. There are so many good stories in a school division. A huge part of the job is letting people know all the wonderful things that happen in our schools and the top-notch teachers we have.”

A Culpeper native, Mrs. Parkinson, 66, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Old Dominion University.

Her passion for writing led to a 17-year tenure in the public affairs department at the U.S. Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk. She worked as a reporter for “The Gator” newspaper on base and as a public information specialist, among other positions.

“I loved every minute of it,” Mrs. Parkinson said. “I was already patriotic, but to work with all those military people just propelled my patriotism. I honed my craft of writing there.”

Covering the 1982 Air Florida plane crash in the Potomac River ranked among her most memorable assignments.

In 1991 she moved back to Culpeper with her husband to raise a family.

Mrs. Parkinson worked as a reporter at the Culpeper News before getting a job as the first public information officer for Culpeper County Public Schools in 1998.

“I got into it because I love writing, but there’s a lot more to it than that,” Mrs. Parkinson says. “There’s a lot of dealing with the public. It’s mostly email now. People write in with a question or complaint . . . .

“I’ve always thought every person is a story,” she added.

Of her work in Fauquier, Mrs. Parkinson said, “I just really enjoy telling those stories. This world needs good news and it’s there.”

She ranks “trying to get the accurate information out ahead of social media” as a challenge.

“Karen’s a workhorse,” school Superintendent David Jeck said. “She puts out so much information about the school system. She’s always had her finger on the pulse of the school system. She will be very difficult to replace.”

The school system will advertise the position for about four weeks, starting this month.

“It’s a really important position, and we are going to be very careful in terms of how we fill it,” Dr. Jeck said.

Upon retirement, Mrs. Parkinson plans to spend more time with her family and “serve God by helping people” through her church, Culpeper Baptist.
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