Looking for the Colonel


Today I went in search of the Colonel.

Francis Wayland Parker was a New Hampshire boy, and he was also the founder of the school where I teach. I found out after I had been at CMK last year that he was buried here in Manchester. I actually think that his cremains are interred here in Piscataquog Cemetary. I was sure that this would be miles from where the conference is taking place and that I would need to convince someone with a car to join me on an expedition. Google maps, however, let me know that it was a 25 minute walk.

Today is going to be hot, so as I get up at a crazy early hour, I went in search of the Colonel at 5:30 this morning.

The sun was up, but the haze was heavy. It was already hot. I headed out to Granite street to cross the Merrimack river.


I walked under the highway, past the Elks Club where they are advertising a meat raffle, an idea whose time has come.


Turned the corner, another view (I think) of the Merrimack and then up a hill. Here I was faced with directional challenges. My memory told me to turn left, and thankfully I had written the directions out and knew to fight that impulse and turn right. Up and around a renovated school, and I could see the cemetery.


Of course, the gate was on the far side, but it was easy enough to find his grave. All of the graves have a standard monument, except one – the Parkers’.


Frances and Francis Parker share a monument. It is a stone with a bronze plaque.


No indication that there is anything extraordinary about him, but the nearby American flag identifies him as a veteran. Col. Parker was no honorary colonel. He enlisted in the NH regulars as a private during the Civil War, advancing to the rank of colonel and the responsibility of command.

The mosquitos were out in force on this humid morning, so I did not tarry. It was good to have traveled there on foot, as I attend a conference dedicated to constructing our own understanding of things in a spirit if shared inquiry. Francis Parker was a true American scholar: “We will walk with or own feet, we will work with our own hands, we will speak our own minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Melinda Kolk says:

    Thanks for the post! I am following #CMK11 on Twitter to live vicariously. My son is going to Francis Parker in San Diego next year. This will be a fun way to start. — Melinda

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Melinda – thanks for taking time to read and comment. Francis Parker was such an interesting man. I’m looking forward to playing with the Tech4Learning software – Frames is first on my list of programs to dive into and learn.

  2. Dear Kate,

    I need to get the Colonel’s book back to you one of these days.

    It’s a bit battered now, some sections more than others. Parker’s ideas resonate–I am taking on a student teacher this fall, and probably mentoring a 1st year as well. They both need to read his words.

    Thanks for sharing pieces of the conference. Sounds like it’s wonderful (again).

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Michael – the book is yours. I have my own copy, and I agree there are parts that are more closely read and annotated than others in my copy. I keep hearing about John Dewey – from Gandini, Resnick, Kozol – more folks should read the Colonel. He walked the talk. (so please share his work with your student teacher and your newly minted teacher)

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