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Becky Parmenter “stumbled” into her position as the lead instructor and Community School of the Arts coordinator at Gallery One a decade ago.

Parmenter, who is retiring in June, said she will miss the kids the most and people at Gallery One. She plans to stay in the area.

“I will miss the community, but I really am not going anywhere, just changing my day job,” she said.

Gallery One's Community School for the Arts offers classes for kids after school, along with a variety of summer camps.

Shortly after moving to the area, Parmenter met former education coordinator Laurie Hansen. About a week later, she ended up working at Gallery One as an instructor filling in during absences. Her duties and involvement increased over time and she eventually took over Hansen’s position.

Parmenter will officially retire on June 15, and her departure was recognized during May’s First Friday Art Walk. The event coincided with Arts Education Month and the gallery’s annual Community School of the Arts student exhibit.

Gallery One Executive Director Monica Miller said Parmenter has been able to encompass the gallery’s mission of “arts for all.”

“She has been willing to take arts education on the road and meet people where they are and that was something I was very much interested in when I started four years ago,” Miller said.

Miller said Parmenter’s impact on the community is rooted much deeper than art.

“I would say her collective impact on our community is not only through providing quality arts education to hundreds and hundreds of students but also in fostering their sense of self and self confidence and communication abilities,” she said.

TRANSITIONS

Parmenter’s successor Jana Contreras was introduced Friday. Contreras has lived in Ellensburg for 11 years. She worked for Comprehensive Healthcare as a therapist for eight years before taking three years off to spend more time with her kids.

Contreras has a master’s degree in art therapy from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, and a bachelor’s of science in psychology with a studio art minor from State University at New York in Brockport.

“It was the right time and it’s a position where I feel like I’m going to be inspired by my students,” Contreras said.

Parmenter, who has been a part of the hiring process, agrees Contreras’ diverse educational and work backgrounds will benefit her in the position.

"She’s totally a natural. She’s going to be great,” Parmenter said. “She’s done everything I do at different times in her life and she’s excited about being here.”

Miller said Contreras’ qualifications were above and beyond.

“She’s caring and she’s really been able to, in her non-art focused career, infuse art into her situations,” Miller said. “She’s had experience, for example, bringing the arts into different abilities in her work as a mental health worker.”

WHAT'S NEXT

Parmenter plans to help with the transition at Gallery One. During retirement, she plans on playing a bigger role in her grandkids' lives and working on her own art.

“This is a chance to reinvent myself,” Parmenter said.

She also plans on spending more time in her newest venture: tending to honey bees. “I’ve learned a lot and I just started a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

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