Jessie M. Parker


"The impact 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

Jessie 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 a woman.