Caroline County resident LaTonya Parker is one busy professional woman: a high school director of counseling, mother to a blended family of six and a social media figure with a blog that provides fashion tips and life advice.

That busy life and social media presence recently led to her selection as an “O Mag Insider” by the Oprah Winfrey publication.

A website dedicated to the program at omaginsider.com describes these insiders—there are 50—as “on-the-ground influencers and extensions of the ‘O, The Oprah Magazine’ brand.”

The site notes that people were chosen based on their ability to influence product innovation and content. Chosen from more than 1,000 applicants, the 50 women will serve for a year and get access to the magazine’s exclusive events, test products before they hit the shelves and earn brand-name merchandise.

It’s one more accomplishment for the Caroline County resident and counseling director at Riverbend High School who has already written a book (“Single Mom Chic”), created and maintained an advice and fashion blog and worked as a community college instructor.

She did much of that as a single mother of two daughters in Virginia Beach, but she’s now married to the superintendent of schools in Caroline County, George Parker, and they live in Ruther Glen.

Parker’s husband joined her July 15–22 on Oprah’s Year of Adventure Cruise to Alaska. The insiders who attended got to interact with magazine officials and take part in a fashion show that will be featured later this year in the magazine.

Parker said she and her husband thoroughly enjoyed all of it, especially the chance to sail through Glacier Bay and witness a waterfall cascading down the ice floe.

When I caught up with Parker after the cruise, she was still elated from the experience.

She said it was exciting to hear Winfrey speak, and she even got to talk extensively with Winfrey confidant Gayle King.

“I will get access to products that I can try out and give my opinions on, and have access to events that the magazine sponsors,” said Parker. “What’s great for me is that this all fits perfectly into the blog I’ve done for some time now.”

She said she started the blog and website because she was tired of seeing the sad, lonely and bad “single mother” stereotype and wanted to do something to help. She said the lion’s share of single mothers do an amazing job of caring for their children, but don’t save enough time or energy to care for themselves.

“The blog was and is dedicated to helping those single mothers—to help them understand they need to spend some time on themselves as well,” she said.

A quick spin through the blog turns up posts on topics ranging from “3 Steps to Avoiding Mom Burnout” to “10 Must Haves for Summer Vacation” to “How to Be a Chic Mom At Home.”

Parker said she expects the products and opportunities she will get as an O Mag Insider to increase her profile. She’s already linked Instagram posts to the blog, and expects that will allow her to share her new products and ideas with those who follow her on social media.

With her busy schedule, she has to fit blog writing in when she can, which mostly means working nights and weekends.

The longtime educator and counselor said she and the other members of her department are challenged to help students expand and reach their goals.

“And in a way, this O Mag Insider is a way for me to do the same thing for myself,” said Parker, who says she hopes it could help expand the public speaking she does as a sideline.

She said she pushed herself in another way recently, joining her principal and other staffers for kayaking near Harper’s Ferry.

“It was definitely a new challenge for me,” she said. “I really believe we all need to keep challenging ourselves in life. It helps you to keep growing.”

Parker’s blog is online at singlemomchiclife.com

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Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415

rhedelt@freelancestar.com

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