Meet Mr. Perkinson!
8th Grade American History
Head of School
What led you to your current role at The Hudson School?
At least three events led me to The Hudson School. The executive director of the E.E. Ford Foundation called me two years ago and said something like “Paul, I just met with an amazing woman who founded a school in Hoboken, NJ and she told me she is retiring. This is the perfect school for you…and you for them!” The second event occurred the day I visited as a candidate. I arrived early and sat at the door watching students enter the school building. Without exception, each student arrived with a smile on their face and in convivial conversation with another student or teacher arriving at the same time. The third event occurred in a conversation with a Hudson alum who told me an inspired story of the transformational impact the school had on him and his family. Taken together, it was easy to decide what I should do when I was honored to be offered the job by the trustees.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?
Students and staff members who arrive early to school know that I whistle everyday when I walk to work at The Hudson School. I love what I do. I am a very lucky person. My schoolwork is thoroughly engaging and endlessly rewarding. I believe that teaching young learners is a noble, fulfilling, challenging, and soul-filling calling. For me, the word teacher is usually said with reverence. Hiring, supporting, and furthering teachers resonates with me powerfully. Teaching is one of the most important endeavors to which a person might devote himself. Good teaching matters. What an educator believes and embraces in his schoolwork is paramount.
Every child deserves an education that both nourishes and challenges him or her while seeking to bring out the very best scholar, athlete, writer, artist, thinker, or inventor inside that child. We honor learners by meeting them wherever they are in their development, respecting them as individuals, showing them the enormous potential they possess, and challenging them to exceed even their own expectations.
Schools should be curiosity acted upon. We are by nature curious and imaginative beings. Good schools and good teachers recognize that nurturing, developing, and feeding a student’s curiosity is key to lifelong learning. The habit of curiosity combined with the habits of resiliency, analysis, imagination, empathy, commitment, and humility are central to good schooling. These are the foundational habits that develop young women and young men of great character, integrity, and compassion.
Where did you grow up? What was it like to grow up there? Where did you go to school and what was that like? Did it have an impact on your choice of career?
I grew up in Atlanta when the city was a sleepy, dusty small town and when one of them most exciting things to do on the weekend was to drive downtown to look at the construction progress of the first fifteen story building in the city. All of my family on my father’s side had lived in various parts of Georgia for many, many generations. My mother was born on a Tlinkit Indian reservation in Alaska and grew up in the Alaskan wilderness until she was sent to finishing school in Boston. My parents met at Bellview Hospital where they both worked after WW II. They were wise enough to move to Georgia to raise four children, of which I am the youngest. I fell in love with history early in life as Georgia is steeped in its own history. I used to hike where ancient Indian mounds remained and where Civil War battles were fought. In 8th grade I had a Georgia history teacher who could really tell a story…she made the course content come alive and take on meaning. It was in 8th grade in a Georgia history class when I realized I wanted to teach history and as boring as it may sound to some, that is exactly what I have done ever since I graduated from college thirty-nine years ago.