A long-time Parker High teacher who died in 2004 is being honored by the school district. At the June 11 school board meeting, the library at Parker High School was renamed the Ronald C. Curnutt Library.
Assistant Superintendent Brad Sale said the name change will take effect immediately. New signs for the name change will be ordered this summer, and there are plans to have a photo of Curnutt and his biography on display in the library.
Ronald Colin Curnutt was a widely admired teacher of history and social studies at Parker High. He was born in Oklahoma on March 26, 1947. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central State University in Edmond, Okla. He taught at Parker High from 1971 until shortly before his passing on Nov. 6, 2004. He was twice nominated for State Teacher of the Year. In 1981, he received the Outstanding History Teacher Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He was named Community Educator of the Year in 1982.
In his letter recommending Curnutt be honored with having the library named for him, Superintendent Jim Lotts noted he taught World History, American History, Economics and U.S. Government during his 33 years of teaching at Parker High. He also served for 25 years as the Chairman of the Social Studies Department and as advisor for the PHS Chapter of the National Honor Society.
In addition, Curnutt was involved with student council and sponsored several summer trips to locations like Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Boston to visit historical sites.
Curnutt has continued to contribute to Parker High since his passing. He donated his collection of military hats and helmets to the school, and they are on display in the library. He also donated his extensive collection of military books to the school’s library, and they are regularly checked out by students.
Curnutt also donated the information about the U.S.S. Arizona on display in the library.
Lotts said Curnutt also mentored many young teachers in his time at Parker High.
“Ron Curnutt had a positive impact on every student enrolled in his classroom,” Lotts said in his recommendation. “In addition, he impacted untold numbers of young teachers through his unique style of mentoring. ‘Mr. Curnutt’ will always be remembered as a great teacher and a true icon at Parker High School. It is for these reasons that I recommend the naming of the Parker High School Library in honor of Ron Curnutt.”
Parker Unified School District Board President Randy Hartless noted it was district policy to wait 15 years after the death of an individual to name anything in that person’s honor.
Hartless said he thought the renaming was fitting. He said he was at Curnutt’s funeral in 2004 and he saw many of his former students there. He could see how much Curnutt was admired.
“It’s really great,” Hartless said of naming the PHS library for Curnutt. “He was a terrific teacher. He left a great legacy.”
One of Curnutt’s former students is Parker Mayor Dan Beaver. He was a senior during Curnutt’s first year at Parker High, and he was Beaver’s Constitution teacher. He later became Curnutt’s friend.
“It does my heart well,” Beaver said of the renaming. “He was a great teacher. I enjoyed Ron the whole time he was here in Parker.”