LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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David Parisi

Position: Engineering and Robotics Teacher
School: Jay M Robinson High School
School District: Cabarrus County Schools
City, State: Concord, NC

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David Parisi was nominated by his colleague, Kristi Parlier.

"In 2017, when I accepted the position of Coordinator for the Academy of Engineering & Automation at Jay M. Robinson High School, I knew two things," said Parlier. "First, I had a great foundation to build an amazing program, but I definitely had my work cut out for me trying to build and brand a relatively new program. Second, I had to find a way to keep up with the super-amazing/too-good-to-be-true Dave Parisi, who I had heard so much about and who was the Technology Education teacher and VEX Robotics Coach. What I found was that the first task would prove simple, but it...would challenge me more than I ever imagined to try and keep up with someone with the drive, energy, passion, and commitment level of Dave Parisi."

In 2012, Mr. Parisi started the VEX Robotics Team at Jay M. Robinson. He started that year with a handful of students interested in applying STEM concepts to robotics engineering competitions. In his first year, he not only coached his students through the challenges of engineering solutions on the spot, but he also realized that there weren't very many opportunities for students to apply their learning in a competitive arena. Rather than accept the "norm," he decided to host a VEX Tournament for middle and high school students at Jay M. Robinson. Soon after, Mr. Parisi realized there were very few opportunities for students to continue learning outside the school year, so he hosted his first VEX Summer Camp for roughly 60 elementary-aged students.

Fast forward to 2020. Coach Parisi has been responsible for getting VEX Robotics in every single Cabarrus County elementary school (19), middle school (7) and traditional high school (8), as well as hosting regional and state-wide championships for students throughout the state. Prior to COVID-19, he was planning to host summer camps at eight sites with an expected enrollment of more than 300 students. He has grown his vision into a powerhouse program that has earned seven state championship titles and has afforded thousands of students amazing opportunities.

Coach Parisi has earned his fair share of accolades. He was voted Teacher of the Year by his colleagues for three years while at Jay M. Robinson, awarded the Inspiration All Star Award, and inducted into the Robotics Education Competition Foundation STEM Hall of Fame. It’s clear that he is respected by his peers, students, and parents, and he is often acknowledged for his work. However, these titles cannot really illustrate the impact and life-long effects that Mr. Parisi has on so many.

"When I heard about the LifeChanger of the Year Award, I knew that there was not an educator around that deserved that title more than Dave Parisi," Parlier said. "The statistics are impressive, and it is easy to see that Dave Parisi has a significant impact on so many students. The real impact, however, can only be measured by understanding the level of admiration and respect so many have for Dave. When I reached out to a few of Coach’s many devoted fans, I was awestruck by the level of respect and admiration so many of his parents and students have for him."

"He has a persistent, selfless commitment to helping equip children with the skills they needed to be successful in the modern world," said Craig Porter, a parent of two VEX team alumni and long-time volunteer for the program. "Mr. Parisi believes so strongly in the importance of the technical, communication, and interpersonal skills that students learn through the robotics program that he has worked with public and private schools across the state to help them launch similar programs. He’s worked with the NC School for the Deaf in the western part of the state (leading them to win a Design Excellence Award in their third year) and with Apex County Schools in the east. He is a resource, advocate, and partner broadly across the state.”

“Mr. Parisi places high accountability on the students of Jay M. Robinson and teaches them to hold themselves to higher standards," said Joe Serviss, a fellow CTE (Career & Technical Education) teacher and VEX Announcer for district and state events. "He works as the district Co-Director of VEX Robotics while continuing to teach in the classroom because of his love for the craft. He has worked with the school board, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and many other groups in the school district and in the community, including the Robotics Education Foundation, to develop the highest quality program in North Carolina. As far as high moral and ethical standards, Mr. Parisi is a rule follower, but also a strong advocate for continuous process improvement."

“David Parisi is a rare individual," said Britney Mubarak, a parent. "To find a teacher with his passion and commitment is a treasure. Mr. Parisi leads by example. He is a well-spoken, kind man who expects his students to give their best. He allows them to grow and learn – driving them to reach their full potential. His passion for robotics and all of the students is rare to find. He is a diamond and glowing star in our world. He lights a burning fire in his students to do their best. Mr. Parisi demands their best, and they endeavor to give it to him. Our community is lucky and honored to have him.”

Finally, a recent graduate and student working to complete his mechanical engineering degree, Austin Thorton, reached out to Mr. Parisi and said this:

“I’m writing this email because I wanted to thank you for the lessons you taught us each day in class. You used to often tell us to 'work as if it is your own company.' That has always stuck with me through the years…Many of my fellow classmates didn’t listen to the advice you gave us about our future careers and life, but I’m thankful I did. Please keep teaching these lessons to your students. I know they were a great help to me and will continue to be as I start my career as a mechanical engineer."

"I could continue with copious notes of thanks or admiration that so many have shared for Dave Parisi," said Parlier. "Personally, I know that I am a better educator, better parent, and better leader thanks to Dave Parisi. It is obvious that he is loved and so worthy of the title 'LifeChanger of the Year.'"



Comments (40)


Sandra Cusack Posted 17 days ago

Congratulations on this well deserved honor!

Scott Rose Posted 20 days ago

Congratulations David! SO well deserved!!

Jeff Lintz Posted 21 days ago

Well deserved!!! Congratulations!!!

Russell White Posted 2 months ago

I experienced Dave's drive and hard work during the time my son was on his VEX team. I can't imagine trying to keep up with him because I don't think it's possible! The devotion he gave his students was amazing. The way he motivated them to succeed was amazing. It's also amazing how he inspired his students to succeed through hard work and dedication. I was also able to see the help he offered to other teachers trying to start VEX programs of their own with my two younger boys on their elementary school team. I remember calling up asking to borrow a game piece for that team and him telling me, "Come on over. We'll be here until 8:30 tonight." Wow.

Isabelle Powell Posted 4 months ago

Mr. Parisi brings passion to all that he does - robotics team, STEM students, student-athletes (wrestling) and his family. You can see a clear pattern of education, health (mental and pyhysical), teamwork/community and support in the way he lives his life and spends his time. His creativity is inspiring as well and I hope to find a way to help him on his mission to get additional funding for his robotics team, as a sports team would. He is inspiring to students, and friends! Congrats on the nomination and hey thanks for raising some great kids too!

Amanuel Tenaw Posted 4 months ago

I met Mr. Parisi this year for Robotics class and it has only been a month, but within this short period of time, he has encouraged me to plan my future life and to start fulfilling the requirements of my goal. He always come up with full energy and give us life lessons. One of the things he emphasis is how lucky we are to be in a time where many things are accessible and how we should use the resources we have. This is eye opening since there are tools in the internet that are useful, but we take for granted. I feel lucky when I think that I have one full semester with him and I am looking forward to learn more. Mr. Parisi definitely deserves this life changer award.

Wendy Davidson Posted 5 months ago

I have worked with Mr. Parisi for three years now, but at my previous school, I got to see the fruit of his labor. I remember when my previous school started the robotics program and then it grew and grew. Now I get to see it firsthand. Mr. Parisi has spoken with me about the robotics program and his passion shines through very clearly. I have gotten to see him in action in class and during practice. The students come alive talking about all that that they do in the program. It is clear Mr. Parisi has changed and is changing lives by following his passion. There is no telling how many doors will be opened, for students, as a result of Mr. Parisi’s vision, hard work, and determination.

ricky l Darnell Posted 5 months ago

I was a co worker wirh nr david he was all in and all about gelping the kids he must ve a hero despite any personal beliefs his really an awesome teacher if i had to choose a person to be likr it would be nr david for his outstanding work in what he does

Crystal Kolarik Posted 5 months ago

I met David when I attended my first VEX IQ Robotics competition to see what it was all about, as I was pondering whether to volunteer as a newbie Middle School robotics coach for a first year team. Not only did David answer my zillion (literally!) questions, he gave me tons of information that I didn't even know that I needed to know! Learning what all goes into coaching kids and hosting competitions from watching his extremely well run event gave me so much more insight then I could have ever dreamed of having at such an early point in my coaching. Then to find out that he was instrumental in getting a grant to get Robotics into all the elementary and middle schools in his county, is in charge of setting up and running all the events at the different schools, and that he was more than willing to share this information and help us accomplish the same thing in our county if we were interested, was indescribable! He goes so far above and beyond helping his immediate kids - he helps all of us be so much better at helping our kids! Meeting him was truly a life changer and because of all his great support and advice, I felt confident taking on the volunteer robotics coach position and BOTH of my first year teams made it to STATES!! Thank you David for everything that you do!

Sandra Cusack Hastings Posted 5 months ago

A very well deserved honor. My son has been fortunate to have several really great teachers at JM Robinson High School, but the program that David Parisi runs is truly exceptional since it gives students some hands-on work and experience designing, building and programming robotics which is something that more youth need in order to experience that STEM can be fun even while being challenging. I have also seen Mr. Parisi going above and beyond while working the drop off car lines in the dark and cold mornings at school - it would be nice if we could clone these exceptional teachers so every school could have teachers who are this organized and dedicated and who go above and beyond for students.

Thomas Lomas Posted 5 months ago

A year could go by between talking with Mr Parisi, but you can bet he will still remember your name, ask about your life, and treat you like a close friend the next time you talk. That's the type of person he is and the culture he fosters. I have upmost respect for how he has managed to bring quality STEM education to not only Cabarrus county, but to the state of North Carolina and beyond. You can see it in the students how much they value his leadership, coaching, and mentorship. It was reaffirmed by the REC Foundation when they inducted him in the hall of fame. Mr Parisi would be a fantastic individual to win this award. I wish him all the best. Thank you for your consideration.

Desmarae Hayes Posted 5 months ago

You will never find another person with more passion and dedication to his craft. He works countless hours to make the VEX Robotics program successful and spread the joy of engineering to all age groups. My daughter started with VEX in the 3rd grade and she has developed many life skills along the way. She can communicate with her peers and adults. She can problem solve on the fly. She can adapt to stressful situations. All of these things happened because of Dave's enthusiasm for robotics. He always says that robotics is the 21st Century Contactless Sport and man is he right. I never knew it could be so exciting to watch a kid drive a robot, but when you see the hard work that goes into preparing for a match you can't help but get pumped up!! Covid needs to go away so we can get back to competition level robotics!!! Thanks Dave - for always helping and lending your knowledge to help others!!

Jessie Taylor Posted 5 months ago

If anyone should ever receive this award, it should be Dave. As a first-year teacher, being tasked with my very own Robotics class during COVID seemed impossible at the beginning of the school year. I wondered how I would ever successfully teach such a challenging, exciting, hands-on course from my spare bedroom at home. With Dave's guidance, I was able to incorporate lessons and activities I never would have thought possible in this environment. Because of Dave's efforts, I am now able to have my students complete their own robots this semester! The benefits of his commitment expand far beyond his classroom and the students within it. The impact that Dave has had on Robotics and CTE teachers in this community warrant this award and much more. I cannot thank him enough for the influence he has had on me as a first-year teacher, and I can only imagine how much greater that influence is on his own students. I only hope that one day I will be half as good an educator as Dave.

Jessey Leigh Posted 5 months ago

Mr. Parisi is extremely hard working. There are a lot of things the county would not be able to do if it was not for him! He is well deserving of this title!

Lt Col Scott Rose Posted 5 months ago

David Parisi has always been a leader of youth at the highest level! I have known Dave for over a decade now, and he as always impressed me as a winner! As a wrestling coach, he took his team to state championships. In VEX, again he went all out, building programs from the ground up, hosting first-class competitions at our school where there never was one before. Dave is an incredible man with a heart for mentoring youth and a drive that accepts nothing less than 100% and excellence out of himself and his team. It is a privilege for me to call him a co-worker at Jay M. Robinson High School! He definitely deserves this award recognition!

Jacqueline Ferreira Posted 5 months ago

I have seen Dave in action on many occasions and he is passionate and enthusiastic about his teaching! He has been overly helpful on many occasions to new teachers that are just starting out and need help getting up and running! He is very deserving of this award!

Tammy Gamble Posted 5 months ago

It is a privilege to work with and call Dave a CTE teacher in Cabarrus County School. He is our lead Robotics teacher. Dave always makes time to help others understand robotics. I constantly go to Dave when other teachers have questions whether those teachers are in our district and outside our district.

Holly Harris Posted 5 months ago

Mr. Parisi has not only impacted his school and school district, but he has had an even further reach in creating and nurturing a love of engineering and robotics to our community and state as a whole. His knowledge and delivery of content and application continues to shine, whether it be in competition, the classroom or summer camps. He is beyond deserving of this award.

Jennifer Yandle Posted 5 months ago

Congrats on you nomination, it is well deserved. Not only does your passion for robotics positively impact your students, but it spreads throughout the county to include elementary and middle school students as well.

Caroline Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations on your nomination Mr. Parisi! Well Deserved! You are a passionate advocate for your students!

Michelle Meehan Posted 5 months ago

When I arrived at JMRHS as a teacher a few weeks ago, Dave welcomed me, gave me a tour of his classroom, and explained his program to me. His warm welcome immediately made me feel at home here, and I continue to be grateful that I had such a knowledgeable staff member offer his help in any way I might need. Starting at a new school in the midst of a pandemic wasn't an easy transition, but the fact that he took time out of his day to greet me helped pave the way to what has been a relatively smooth second semester with the students here at Robinson. I have heard about his strong, positive impact on students, but I wanted to chime in that he also has a great impact on other staff members and contributes to the positive atmosphere that makes other teachers able to be their best.

Joseph Serviss Posted 5 months ago

I've worked with David for 8 years and there is perhaps no better choice in my mind for this award. Mr. Parisi is the driving force behind Robotics education in all of Cabarrus County Schools and has extended his reach beyond our walls and throughout the State of North Carolina. But why stop there right? He has even worked with teams from bordering states as well to get them started and some have even travelled to our school to compete. Many of them have gone on to start their own programs in their state. I am honored to work year in and year out with Mr. Parisi. I have announced at these Robotics events the entire time I have been here and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather work with and work for. Now here is the best part. I don't know of a student who doesn't feel the same way. He truly makes a difference in every student he meets through love, respect, and accountability. He teaches students to be responsible, reflective, and most importantly to own their mistakes. One final thing. Mr. Parisi is a huge advocate for school improvement and robotics education. He has spoken before the board many times. He has addressed leaders both educational and political to adopt these programs because of their benefit to our students. Mr. Parisi always says, "Robotics Competition is the only competitive sport where 100% of students have the possibility of going pro." This is evidenced by the number of students who have!!!

Kim Greene Posted 5 months ago

You will not find a better candidate for this award. Dave Parisi works tirelessly to promote robotics across our state. Dave has built a powerhouse program at his own school but his passion is for every student to have the opportunity to learn through this comprehensive program and to gain valuable life skills. He impacts the life of the students but also educators and coaches. There is never a time that I have not reached out with questions, for advice or to borrow supplies that he has not come to the rescue immediately! Dave knows that the skills learned through robotics and the VEX competitions will impact our world for the better with people who are able to research, think critically, solve problems and work with other people whether on their team or strangers. The impact his work will have will be felt for many generations. I am personally very grateful for the impact he has had on me and our program at Charlotte Christian School.

Josiah Allen Posted 5 months ago

You can't find a more deserving candidate for the Life Changer of the Year award. Mr. Parisi's passion and dedication to bettering the students around him is unparalleled. He saw a need in the STEM field for kids to have a competitive outlet and learn the value of teamwork, attention to detail, and ultimately, how to better themselves as individuals. What started as him hosting a VEX robotics event in the common areas of the high school he teaches at, has now blossomed into 8+ years of countless events and after hour/summer classes where innumerable lives have been impacted for the good. Dave's commitment to excellence is contagious, and his students, along with all kids involved in VEX robotics in NC, are the beneficiaries.

Francesca Allen Posted 5 months ago

My father is very deserving of this award. His passion for his students and drive to help them succeed is unbelievable. I have volunteered for countless events since 2013 and am amazed by how many kids have been impacted. His positive, “can do” mentality is very contagious. Most importantly he is a wonderful daddy and grandfather x2!

Kristi Parlier Posted 5 months ago

It is such an honor to nominate Coach Parisi. I really don't feel I've done him justice with just these few words. There are really no words to describe the level of motivation, dedication and extreme passion Dave has for his students. I am truly honored to work with him!

Sri Akula Posted 5 months ago

Mr. Parisi is a well deserving candidate for the Life Changer Award. He has introduced the world of Robotics to so many elementary, middle and High school students and many of them thrive in these competitions due to his enthusiastic approach to teaching. He is great at mentoring the coaches and encouraging the parents to volunteer in these events as well. My children love participating in Vex competitions, they learned how to be great team players all thanks to Mr. Parisi who helped start the robotics team in their elementary school. His Passion and Commitment definitely changed the lives for all Cabarrus County students!

Jeffrey Lintz Posted 5 months ago

Dave Parisi is certainly a deserving individual to receive the "Life Changer of the Year" Award. I met Dave when I attended my second VEX event 6 years ago. He was the Event Partner at JR Robinson SHS. My team was the first all deaf team and it was only our second time out. He spent a lot of time helping me and my team and talking to my principal who attended with us. Dave encouraged me to become an event partner. I did and he coached me and was at my first event helping me all the way. Through these past 6 years, I have called on him and he is always there. My students have always looked up to him and his teams as an inspiration and role model. The way his team handled themselves and supported others I could not have been more please with that choice. Two years ago, as the Event Partner at my school, we were going to host the first ALL Deaf VRC competition, "NRSC & Vex 1st D/HH Robotics Regional Tournament". My school is in the foothills of North Carolina and the NRSC was sponsoring this event. They came into town a few days early and we were getting it ready. Teams were ready to come. Plane tickets and other transportation were bought and now a severe snowstorm was forecast. When we knew transportation was not going to be possible to my school the sponsors were looking for options. They ask me if there was a way to move the event closer to the Charlotte Airport. I immediately thought of Dave Parisi and I contacted him. He offered to host it at his school, use his equipment, and bring in his students to run it. That ended up not happening, but it shows how far he will go to help others. Charlotte was not scheduled to get the brunt of snow; my school was, but it still was going to be bad.

Britney Posted 5 months ago

Dave deserves this award so much, he is what an educator strives to be.

Farrah Milby Posted 5 months ago

Mr. Parisi has impacted my life professionally and personally. As a Cabarrus County elementary media coordinator, I was quite nervous about starting a VEX robotics program at my school. Mr. Parisi has served as a leader and mentor through this process. He advocates at the school, district, state, and national levels for ALL students to have the opportunity to participate in robotics. Under his guidance, I have been able to receive funding for our Title 1 school to reach underserved populations and grants to empower more girls to participate in STEM careers. Many of my team members have gone on to participate in the middle school programs. These students would have not had the opportunity if it was not for the persistence and passion of Mr. Parisi. He has been a driving force in my professional growth. Mr. Parisi has also impacted our lives through my personal children. My oldest son benefits from being in his high school courses. Mr. Parisi's consistency, organization, and thoughtfulness helps my son feel confident as a learner. My middle schooler is already looking forward to having Mr. Parisi as a teacher (and VEX coach!) when he is in high school. Mr. Parisi has not only changed my children's lives for the better, but he has also reached many more students of all levels through his work with educators. He has changed lives, both "small and tall."

John Patalak Posted 5 months ago

Mr. Parisi has an incredible passion for creating an environment of competition to foster the advancement of engineering and robotics. His energy for the topic is contagious and my family has personally benefited. Dave was instrumental in introducing vex robotics to our family and facilitated many great competitions, labs and camps to get kids involved in learning about engineering and robotics motivated by competitiveness.

Ryan Osweiler Posted 5 months ago

Dave is a worthy candidate for this award. His efforts over the past decade have introduced and engaged many North Carolina youth in STEM education and competition activities. As many of his former students are now entering the workforce, it is evident in conversations with them that his impact and initiative have shaped the future for these young people. Those same students are now coming back and giving to the next generation in the same way Dave gave to them. If you want an example of a "Life Changer" it's easy to see how that applies to Dave and the real-life impact his work has had.

Andrea Jean Owens Posted 5 months ago

I have known David Parisi through Vex robotics to be everything you stated. He works countless hours without complaining but with deep dedication to his cause. I have also been impressed with his students who with his leadership have impacted my middle school teams. He has impacted 1000’s amd many he probably doesn’t even know. Thank you for being a great mentor and role model to me! Andrea Owens JMRMS

Chris Summer Posted 5 months ago

We were introduced to Dave through his Robotics Academy when my son was in 4th grade. Mr. Parisi takes his time and knowledge to host elementary and middle school students in his classroom after hours and on weekends. Our first year of competition, 2016, he would host events with 10 teams in attendance a few times a year. In 2020, Dave had grown the robotics program so large that his team was hosting events every weekend and hosted 80+ teams at his own events at JM Robinson High School. Dave always acknowledges his student's strengths and constructively helps them with their weakness. His students always push hard to earn his praise. He truly invests all of his time, energy, and intensity in to his students. They will run through walls for Dave, because he does the same for them daily. Dave really is a life changer to all students in Cabarrus County.

Ruth Wilson Posted 5 months ago

Dave Parisi has greatly impacted robotics in our state and has worked tirelessly to build a statewide robotics program. Dave puts his students first and strives to provide them with amazing opportunities for hands-on STEM experiences that will provide them with valuable life skills. Although our teams compete with his teams, robotics focuses on teamwork alliances that are modeled to encourage collaboration throughout various STEM disciplines.

Steve Beezhold Posted 5 months ago

David Parisi makes a positive difference in the lives of young people. He is an outstanding educator and mentor for his students. David doesn't just focus on what he can do for his students in the classroom. Through his tireless efforts to challenge students through robotics and STEM, he has brought learning opportunities to students throughout the whole state of North Carolina. I am personally very grateful to David for his leadership, and I cannot think of a more deserving person to be named LifeChanger of the year.

TAMIE YOUNG Posted 5 months ago

Thanks Dave for being invested in the lives of so many students and teachers. Your time and engagement with students, teachers, families and community has inspired so many of us. Students have grown, and used critical thinking skills to problem solve and plan, and robotics has taught our students that what they do and how they plan matters, and most of all, that they are important and have a voice! Thank you for all you have and still do to bring Vex Robotics to Cabarrus County Schools. Tamie Young MPMS

Cheryl Anderson Posted 5 months ago

Me. Parisi coached me in robotics throughout all of high school and he truly changed my life. He pointed me in the right direction and is a huge reason why I am a supply chain management major. He gives 100% in everything he does and spends all his time helping others rather than himself. David Parisi truly deserves this award.

Christine Anderson Posted 6 months ago

Dave introduced my middle school daughter to VEX robotics and she fell in love with it. He convinced her to join his competition team and the skills she learned there were invaluable. She learned how to be a team leader and how to mentor younger robotics students as well as learning robotics. He taught them how to work hard and to have pride in what you do. She is now in college and following a major path directly influenced by her time spent with Coach Parisi. He is a life shaper in addition to being a life changer!

Britney Mubarak Posted 6 months ago

Congratulations Mr. Parisi, you deserve it.