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Board Of Ed Candidate: Michael Perry
Since Michael Perry moved to Verona eight years ago, he’s spent a lot of time on the sidelines. On the sidelines of his children’s activities, where he generally serves as the unofficial photographer for all the families involved. And on the sidelines of Verona’s public school system, which he says was the chief reason why he and his wife decided to move to town. But after attending a meeting on the schools’ improvement referendum passed earlier this year, Perry decided that it was time to move from the sidelines onto the playing field.
In July, he was one of five candidates who filed to run for the Board of Education this fall, joining Joanna Breitenbach, Judith DiNapoli, Dominic Ferry, and Lisa Freschi. There is one BOE seat up for election, the seat that had been held by Steve Spardel, who had been chosen to fill a one-year unexpired term created when Dawn DuBois stepped down from the Board. Spardel is not seeking reelection.
“The things I learned [at the referendum meeting] were shocking,” Perry says. “That there were several doors in the district that you could kick in, for example. That the heating system at the high school was from the 1950s. That’s no way for a student to learn or a teacher to teach. I was just completely baffled,” he adds. “People must have known about them for years. What else was the money spent on?”
Perry also has concerns about whether Verona’s students are ready for the new standardized test that is coming to the district this year, the PARCC. “It’s taken on a computer, but they haven’t taught them how to type on a computer,” Perry says. “My son comes home with clip art from his computer class. How much clip art do you need?” Perry is the father of three children, including a son in fifth grade, a daughter in fourth, and another daughter entering kindergarten in 2015.
Perry, a resident of Ann Street, has worked at HBO for more than a decade, creating promotional videos for shows like Boardwalk Empire. A graduate of William Paterson University, he credits his career in media to a class he took in high school that taught him the basics of television production. “We had a studio where we had three cameras and everybody in class had a different job. I took the class, loved it and ever since then I wanted to work in television.”
Perry says that one of his goals in running for the Board of Ed is to make sure that today’s students at Verona High School are exposed to a wide variety of careers. “If the kids don’t even know about these other fields,” he says, “they might be missing out on things that could be of interest to them. It’s all about exposing the kids to things,” he notes. “Maybe they’ll find something they love.”
Perry is returning to the sidelines to get the word out about his campaign, talking to parents and coaches at his older daughter’s softball games, for example.
“I have a vested interest in the education in Verona for a while”, says the young parent. “Education is why my wife and I moved to Verona. My own family moved around a lot and I attended four different schools. So I said wherever I am when my kids are in school the first day is where I’m staying until high school.”
MyVeronaNJ.com will be profiling all of the BOE candidates over the coming weeks. The election is Tuesday, November 4.
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