Indiana Teacher of the Year offers inspiration to future educators at Bayh College of Education

April 28, 2014

Being the best requires learning from the best and some Indiana State University education students got a taste of the epitome of Indiana education when they met Steve Perkins, the state's 2014 Teacher of the Year.

Perkins' journey from the classroom at North Central High School in Indianapolis, where he has taught Latin since 1998, to the podium at Indiana State on April 25 began with an email. He contacted Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of Indiana State's Bayh College of Education, offering his blog and Twitter account to share as a resource for professors and students and "to draw others into that conversation on the most humane of enterprises - education."

"Our calling is to do more, in the sense of something greater," Perkins told the group of TOTAL students who will head into a semester of student teaching. "We're called as teachers to help students understand their role in education and change the perspective of the people in our communities because what we do as teachers is nothing less than insuring their legacy."

It's able the call of the discipline and a sense of vocation that sets educators apart from other professionals.

"Today is a day of celebration, a day of excitement, a day that we celebrate the greatest, best and most rewarding profession there is - a classroom teacher," Hill-Clarke said when Perkins visited campus with his mother, Patricia, of New Albany. Patricia Perkins is a 1959 Indiana State elementary education graduate and she celebrated her 77th birthday on April 25.

For Perkins, his legacy as a teacher was guided by his mother, who was a fourth-grade teacher in southern Indiana for nine years, and his father, who served as both a teacher and principal.

"I feel that what Steve said is both meaningful and universal," Patricia Perkins said. "I'm proud of what he's accomplished and I just know Steve's dad, who died several years ago, is looking down on him today."The community of educators Perkins grew up around taught him that there needs to be a balance between knowing how to lead children and being a master of what one teaches.

"If you're going to guide students, you're going to need one key trait - the ability to see through other people's eyes," he said. "You have to know who they are if you're going to guide them and it may require the way you teach to be different too. The Greeks and the Romans I teach about haven't changed, but students change and I have to too."

Even though they're preparing to enter the field in one of the most difficult times for teachers in the U.S., Perkins said he was glad to see a room full of young professionals at Indiana State, who are ready to take on the challenge and become the solution.

"His inspiration is contagious," said senior Katie Romoser of New Palestine, who will graduate from Indiana State in December with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. "It was his statement about never teaching anything you wouldn't teach yourself that really hit me. He motivated me to pursue my own personal learning and invite my students on that journey to show them that it's important to be life-long learners."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or Betsy.Simon@indstate.edu