Bath County HS welcomes new principal
When students at the high school in Bath County return to classes on Wednesday, there will be a new face to welcome them. Dr. Michael Perry became principal in July, and took some time in his first weeks on the job to talk to AMR listeners. I asked about a little of his professional history first.
“I’m most recently from Pulaski County Virginia. I’ve been there the past fifteen years, and I’ve served as the principal in both the elementary and middle schools. Prior to that, I was Executive Director of Western Virginia Public Education Consortium, which served nineteen counties, Bath County being one of those. Prior to that, I was at Virginia Tech as a visiting professor, and also finished up my PhD there. Prior to that I was an agriculture teacher for twenty-five years in Estill County Kentucky. I’m a native of Bullit County, Kentucky, and have been just blessed to end up in Bath County.”
I knew the experience with the public education consortium helps Dr. Perry bring very valuable, and much needed skills to this job. He explained that through job fairs and training, the group is able to bring qualified teachers who may have transitioned from a different field such as engineering, or technology into the classroom.
“Somebody who had a business degree, you know, help them become a business teacher; same thing, we just teach them how to teach.”
We talked a little about the challenge of retaining teachers in a rural area with an aging population, but Dr. Perry is an optimist, as well as a realist.
“We’re blessed you know, I’ve met a lot of the teachers here in the county, I haven’t seen a one that’s not an excellent teacher, so you all have done a good job getting teachers, of course you, it’s a constant thing, because you know people come and go. You’re always looking.”
“If you had three words that you would include in your educational philosophy, or how you like most to reach students, what would those three words be? “
“I think, ‘learn by doing;’ As I told you, I’m an old agriculture teacher, so that was part of our agriculture creed: ‘learning to do, doing to learn, learning to live, and living to serve’ and I believe that. I believe you can be told things, and you can remember a good bit of that, but if you really want to get it, you do it.”
I didn’t want to sell Dr. Perry short on words, because it’s not every day I get to talk to a high school principal, so I said that first could count as a “phrase”, and if he wanted to add more to go ahead.
“Well, three more words that come to mind are contextual, integrated and applied learning. Contextual, uh, that would be learning, putting it in the context that a student understands first why they need to know this stuff, and if you can convince them of that, why, they’re more apt to learn it. The integrated is not just to isolate the learning in a particular class. You know, you can write across the curriculum. There’s no reason you can’t write in a math class, or a science class or a history class. There’s no reason you can’t have history in a foreign languages class. So, that’s the integrated part. And the applied part is the part I just told you about is the learning by doing.”
The high school back-to-school evening is on Tuesday from 2 until 7pm . For more information on that, and the welcoming events at both elementary schools please visit the Bath County Schools’ website. And for the second half of this interview with Dr. Michael Perry please stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.