Becoming the kind of teacher he never got to have

Senior early childhood education major Alex Perry is taking his wealth of experience as a student teacher to Success Academy Charter Schools in New York after graduation.

Though Alex didn’t enjoy school growing up, his mother encouraged him to become a force for change in the education system. As he searched for colleges, he knew Berry was the right place to shape him into the sort of teacher who could make a real difference in students’ lives.

As early as spring semester freshman year, Alex has been able to teach at Berry’s on-campus lab school, Berry College Elementary and Middle School. He also did field placements at the Child Development Center on campus and in a local partner school, Anna K. Davie Elementary.

“Pretty much every Berry class you’re in, you’re in a classroom somewhere in Rome or at Berry,” Alex says of the education program.

A variety of mentors helped Alex become the teacher he is today, but his most inspirational faculty connection was with (now retired) Professor Emeritus of Teacher Education Dara Wakefield. It was Dr. Wakefield’s unsolicited recommendation letter that helped him get an internship at Success Academy, a charter school network that serves low-income communities.

“As a student, Alex was way ahead of the game,” Wakefield says. “Academics came easily to him, but he was more concerned about relationships and getting to the heart of the matter…He has a deep appreciation of authentic learning and disadvantaged students. He is the trifecta of teaching—student, friend and colleague. He not only wants to teach, he wants to change lives.”

Berry prepared Alex to move on to the next chapter in his life through hands-on classroom experience. He feels like it will do the same for anyone else interested in finding the right college fit for them. “Berry is an incredible place to experience a lot of different things,” Alex says. “There’s a profound level of respect among everyone here.”

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