Jessie M. Parker
of her leadership and promotion of education has been felt throughout
Iowa, barring possibly only a few schools to which she has not
made a personal visit."
- Mills Graphic, May 6, 1959
M. Parker was born February 25, 1879 in Lake Mills, Iowa. She
furthered her education at colleges and universities in Grinnell,
Iowa; Cedar Falls, Iowa; Des Moines; and Valparaiso, Indiana.
From 1897 to 1915, Parker taught the third and eighth grades
in the Lake Mills school system and became the city's first woman
high school principal. When she became superintendent in 1927,
she was appointed school supervisor and inspector for Iowa's
Standard Rural Schools. In 1938, Parker became State Superintendent
of Public Instruction. As superintendent, Parker reorganized
the school system, established professional teacher certification
guidelines, expanded curriculum aids, revised the school accounting
system, and developed the "home-to-school" phone system
for ill children. Parker served one term on the Lake Mills Community
School Board. In recognition of her contributions to education,
Parker was included in the 1940 edition of Who's Who in America.
Parker died May 1, 1959. Parker was inducted into the Iowa Women's
Hall of Fame in 1986.
UPDATE: Parker had the State's Vocational Rehabilitation
building named after her in 1988, making the Parker Building
the first State of Iowa government building to be named after