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The halls of Plano ISD schools just got a lot less bright. This past Thursday, Plano alumni, students, teachers, and parents gathered at Shiloh Baptist Church to honor former Plano ISD police liaison Arthur “OP” Parker at a retirement ceremony.
Parker worked for Plano Police Department for over 34 years and spent 30 of those years as a school resource officer. He was known for his dance moves and balloon animals and for memorizing the names of every student. It’s thought that at this point, he has memorized more than 20,000 names.
On any given day, Parker could be seen in the carpool of Wilson Middle School, Clark High School, Plano Senior High School, and other Plano ISD schools cranking out dance moves as he directed traffic. Parker used humor and kindness when approaching students.
“‘OP’ used to mean ‘Officer Parker,’” Parker said at the retirement ceremony. “Now, it means ‘old person.’”
Even in retirement, Parker maintains a good sense of humor.
“Why is it a good thing that I’m retiring?” he asked. “The world is going to be a better place. The police department is going to be a better place now that I’m retiring, because the police officers no longer will get calls about a drunk officer dancing in the street.”
He also joked that he will launch a home business in the form of a toupee shop.
“I already have a name for it,” he said. “‘Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.’”
During his three decades as a police liaison for Plano ISD, Parker touched many lives. He was committed to making sure each student feel special.
Jennifer Ramby, a reading instruction specialist at Plano ISD, recalled the happiness that surrounded his interactions with students. He memorized their names and photographs from yearbooks and greeted each of them with a smile and their name. He also created dozens of balloon characters that he would give students. He often traveled between Plano ISD schools. Not once would any of the students fade from his memory.
“This would amaze the students that he knew all of their names and would make them all feel special,” Ramby said.
Several years ago, former students created a Facebook fan page for Parker. At the news of his retirement, alumni poured in, posting their favorite memories of him. “We crossed paths about 3 years ago (2015)…I graduated in 2000,” wrote Tracy Gibson. “He saw me and said hey there Tracy Potash!!! Over 15 years later he still remembered my face and name!”
He made an impact on faculty, too. “I will always remember OP’s animated carpool duty and the fabulous balloon animal that he would hand out to Wilson students,” said Stacey O’Mahony, an English teacher at Wilson Middle School at Parker’s ceremony. “Later, he was my older daughter’s resource officer at Clark [High School], and Sloane was incredibly impressed that OP printed out every student’s picture so that he could greet each of the students by name.”
While Parker may now be retired, he has no plans to slow down. In retirement, Parker still plans to speak to schools on drug awareness and give presentations on careers in the police force. His impact will continue to be felt among students, administrators, teachers and parents.
Or, as Ramby pointed out, “He affected every single student by making them feel important and not lost in the campus. Because he built that relationship with students, they wanted to make him proud by choosing to follow expectations and make good choices. The overall campus climate was better because he was a part of everyday life.”