Social studies teacher Justin Parker ’14 arrives in his classroom each morning. By the end of the day, he will have seen 107 students sitting in front of him; but he also has the spirit of former social studies teachers behind him.
For Parker, a first-year teacher at Dayton Early College Academy, such a career was a goal set during his own high school years after a charity ballgame gave him a new perspective — and a Flyer connection.
“I had a particular teacher in high school that I wanted to model myself after,” said Parker, who attended Solon High School near Cleveland. That teacher oversaw an annual dodgeball tournament in memory of Solon social studies teacher David Yates, a 1981 UD graduate who died in 2000 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Every year, my teacher shared memories of Yates and how those experiences impacted his life,” Parker said. “Without ever meeting Mr. Yates, I learned how selfless he was as an educator and as a person. I did my best during my own time at UD to emulate those character traits.”
A magna cum laude graduate and Dayton Civic Scholars participant, Parker was also a recipient of the University’s David Thomas Yates Scholarship. A history major, Yates was president of the honorary history society and received the Dean Leonard A. Mann, S.M., Award of Excellence, given to the outstanding senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Established in 2000 by Yates’ family, the scholarship has since been awarded 14 times to service-minded students training for teaching careers — students like Corinne Smyth Gries ’04, the scholarship’s first recipient. Today, she teaches education at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
“UD challenged me to look beyond the classroom and use my education to give back to others,” Gries said. “It was helpful and comforting to know that through the Yates scholarship, someone else was giving back and supporting my education. Earning the scholarship showed me that UD is a community that cares about the future generations of Flyers.”
Parker agreed. “The Yates scholarship held a very special meaning in my life,” he said. “My hope is to make an impact on the students I teach in the same way past teachers impacted me.”
So, they held a joint celebration with Crivaro’s parents, who were celebrating 60 years of marriage. They hired the West Chester Swing Kings, a 19-piece big band, and enjoyed a hot-and-cold buffet from Carlino’s Specialty Foods. And they encouraged guests to send gifts — but not the kind wrapped in pretty paper.
Instead, the couple asked attendees to give to the David Thomas Yates Scholarship at the University of Dayton.
“David Yates ’81 was my roommate for three years at UD, my best friend for nearly 23 years, the brother I never had, and one of my groomsmen,” Connor wrote in his anniversary invitation. “At UD, Dave taught me — a clueless hick from upstate New York — how to study and, by example, showed me there was nothing wrong with having a work ethic and striving for perfection. Dave inspired me to become an A student. I owe Dave for not only my academic achievements but also for my subsequent professional success.”
The duo met in Founders Hall and roomed together as the first residents of 361 E. Stewart St. in the newly built Garden Apartments. Yates helped Connor learn to study, and Connor, a security guard for Marycrest Hall and Campus South,
introduced Yates to new faces. Senior year, they shared the Dean Leonard A. Mann, S.M., Award of Excellence, the first time the honor was ever split.
“For two years before his death, Dave attended an annual Yates 5K Run/Walk in Solon, Ohio, that raised funds for ALS patients and their families,” Connor said. “The theme was ‘Celebrate Life,’ and that’s what we wanted to do with our anniversary. I miss Dave, but I’m grateful our paths crossed when we were young men at our beloved UD.”