Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Heritage of Teaching

2016 saw Indiana celebrate its bicentennial, and as part of that celebration, Hoosier teachers shared stories of the educational heritage in their families.  My family’s Hoosier education heritage stretches back to the late 1800s and has continued nearly unbroken to this day.

On my mother’s father’s side of the family, our story begins with my great grandmother, Flora Carlile, who was born in 1862 and taught in a one-room school house in Washington County.  Five of her children continued as teachers, including my great uncle Edwin Carlile (b. 1886), who taught wood shop at Froebel High School in Gary; my great aunt Bessie Pearl Carlile (b. 1893), who taught in a one-room school house and then the consolidated Finley Township School in Scott County; and my great aunt Goldie Ethel Carlile (b. 1896), who taught in a one-room school house in Scott County and then for 41 years at State Street School (renamed Lillian Emery Elementary School) and Silver Street School in New Albany; and my great aunt Myra Jean Bailey (b. 1899), who taught in the 1920s in a one-room school in Scott County.  Her daughter, Phyllis Anne Thompson (b. 1927), taught English at Scottsburg High School in the 1940s and 1950s, and Anne Thompson’s son-in-law, Joe D. Smith (b. 1946), taught English and served as librarian for 37 years at Scottsburg High School and Scottsburg Middle School.

Froebel High School, Gary, Indiana
Silver Street Elementary, New Albany, Indiana, preparing for a visit by President Bush
Scottsburg High School, Scottsburg, Indiana

Flora’s youngest child was my maternal grandfather, James Hanley Carlile.  Born in 1906 and named after Indiana Governor James Franklin Hanly, he taught in a one-room school house in Scott County in the 1920s and 1930s.

On my mother’s maternal side of the family, her cousin Ottis Ivan Schreiber (b. 1921) served as professor and department chair of English at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

With such an educational bloodline, it was not surprising that my mother, Patricia Lee Carlile (b. 1937) would want to become a teacher.  Further inspired by her own 2nd grade teacher, who captivated her attention in the mid-1940s with the first pair of red shoes she had ever seen and then drove her when she was a senior for a visit to what was then Indiana State Teachers College, my mom earned a B.S in Education from Indiana State and later an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin.  She taught fourth grade from 1959-1968 at Mt. Tabor Elementary School in New Albany.

Mt. Tabor Elementary, New Albany, Indiana

Pat Perkins


It was at Mt. Tabor that my mother met my father, Norman Ray Perkins (b. 1930), who taught sixth grade there after teaching sixth grade in Lake Fenton, Michigan (1957-1959).  He had earned his B.S. in Education from Indiana University thanks to the G.I. Bill after returning from service in Korea and later earned his M.S. from the University of Michigan.  After they married in December of 1967, my mom left teaching at the end of that school year.  My dad started in the fall of 1968 as the principal of Galena Elementary School in Floyd County and remained there until his retirement in 1992.

Norman Perkins

Galena Elementary School, New Albany, Indiana

My wife, Melissa (Stillions) Perkins, and I have taught Latin in Missouri, Texas, and Indiana, she at elementary, middle school, and high school levels, and I at middle school, high school, and undergraduate levels.  Since 1998 I have been the Latin teacher at North Central High School in Indianapolis and in 2014 was named Indiana Teacher of the Year.

North Central High School, Indianapolis, Indiana

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