Scott Perper OPC ’74 can recall some of his favorite teachers without hesitation, starting with Miss Ruth Tindall in fourth grade, who made him feel welcome on that first day and throughout his first year at Penn Charter.
Earlier this year, as Perper was contemplating a gift to the school, he tracked down and visited a teacher whose wisdom stays with him to this day: seventh grade science teacher Don Wells, who used inquiry-based teaching to let his students discover how the phases of the moon proved that the Earth was round. “I will never forget two lessons from those classes,” Perper said, “the first about the phases of the moon, and the second about how to develop curiosity, learning and critical thinking through teaching.’’
Reid Bush was another teacher important to the Class of 1974, Perper said, as a teacher, advisor and friend. “He pushed us to explore and discuss new ideas. ... He also would allow groups of us to make weekend bike rides to Camp Dark Waters in Medford, N.J., when we were in training for our longer summer riding adventures. For Mr. Bush, it was never why? and always why not?”
Perper has fond memories of Joe Perrott “having us capture our dreams on paper,” Peter Reinke “helping me understand the pure genius of the old English poets,” and Jake Dresden’s history and politics lessons “that brought both the past and present into Technicolor.”
Perhaps these recollections brought Perper’s thoughts into focus. “As we’ve thought about charitable giving,” said Perper, a partner at private equity firm Pamlico Capital. “Anne and I have thought about what our priorities are.” Education, he and his wife determined, is at the top of the list.
Perper has been a trustee at Bowdoin College, his and Anne’s alma mater, for the last 15 years. Before that, he served as a board member of Charlotte Country Day School, which their three children attended, and he is past chair of North Carolina Outward Bound School. The Perpers have lived in Charlotte, N.C., for more than 30 years.
Now, Perper said, “it’s time to go back in our lives and say thank you to the schools that we went to in Philadelphia.”
Reflecting on the power of educating, the Perpers recognized “it starts with people. It’s all about good instruction—‘good instruction is better than riches.’ And the good instruction is all about teachers.”
Anne’s career, after graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, led her from being a strategic consultant—“which is a lot like teaching,” Perper said—to raising a family, to taking courses toward her master’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and eventually teaching middle school math at Charlotte Country Day.
“Teaching was a calling—something she was drawn to do,” Perper said. “She watched our kids go through school and said, ‘I think I could help kids in the classroom to like math.’”
Perper decided to “connect the dots”—to honor Anne, who was drawn to teaching and to inspiring middle school students in particular, by making a generous gift to the How Far? campaign to endow a faculty fund at Penn Charter. The goal of the fund, Perper said, is to give the school “financial flexibility to attract and retain women who are great role models and leaders to teach in the Middle School.”
The Anne Bullock Perper Middle School Faculty Fund will recognize a woman teacher who exhibits leadership both inside and outside of the Middle School classroom and is a role model in body, mind and spirit for students. The head of school will award a significant one-year salary enhancement to the recipient.