There wouldn’t be many schools that Brian Parrish would leave Parkway West for after the decade he spent there directing the high school choir. But in the spring of 2022, when Parrish got his first taste of Clayton students while teaching with former director, and friend from college, Claire Minnis, he knew he wanted to be a part of the greyhound community. Parrish knew that though his transfer from the Parkway district would be difficult, but he was ready for a change of pace. “I never saw myself as someone who could stay my entire career in one place. I loved my time at Parkway, it’s a great place to be. But I was there for ten years, and I could feel myself ready for the next challenge, whatever that was,” said Parrish.
Coming into the CHS choir department after years of only knowing one system, and abiding by a different set of rules will be a challenging yet invigorating task that Parrish has to overcome. Considering the excessive amount of turnover in the choir department, Parrish notes that rapid change can be strenuous, but that there is hope for a thriving future, as there are already successful systems in place that Parrish can build on, and grow. Parrish is not only a successful choir director, and dedicated teacher, but also a father of three at home. A prospect that drew him to the Clayton district was the idea of his kids coming to school here.
“There aren’t many places I would leave Parkway for, and Clayton has a reputation that precedes itself,” said Parrish. “The prospect of bringing my kids to Clayton was a wonderful part of the job.” Many don’t know that Parrish has been involved in choir since high school. Graduating from Parkway North High school, and receiving his undergrad from Millikin University, and his masters from Mizzou for choral conducting, Parrish has always been passionate for the art of music.
While Parrish could be conducting large college and adult level choirs as he did in college, his love for teaching has always come back to the high school age. “There’s something so special about it. It’s just such a unique time. You talk about the change that happens from freshman year to senior year. I get to see these kids grow up, become young adults and become self-confident.” Parrish is anticipating a fun yet challenging year, full of surprises. “It seems like this sleeping giant to me, in terms of potential,” said Parrish, “it’s very exciting for me to be able to take something that has a lot of potential, and bring it to fruition.”
Parrish hopes to bring these values to Clayton: positivity, love, and support for all students, new and old. Parrish noted, “On the wall, if I can get to it on time, I want to paint in big letters, ‘Great music. Better people.’ Music is a unique discipline in that the whole point of it is to lift people up.” His system of support, mixed with the enthusiasm for the new year will provide a uplifting choir community that Clayton will thrive with, in the years to come. With goals to be successful on the festival front, as well as the education to take place, Parrish anticipates that if his students and him, “do things with love and service for others,” the new year will bring hope, alacrity, and good music for the Clayton community.