Senators and Representatives From Across the State Enjoy Day at Perkins

Senators and Representatives From Across the State Enjoy Day at Perkins

Senator Dean Tran and Representative Jennifer Benson

Students and staff at the Doctor Franklin Perkins School (Perkins) welcomed Massachusetts Legislators to learn about the school’s programming and positive student impact during “Invite Your Legislator to School Day.”  The event provided State Senators and Representatives the opportunity to meet students and staff, tour the school, and speak with parents about why schools like Perkins are important.

Legislators in attendance included:

  • Representative Jennifer E. Benson [37th Middlesex]
  • Representative Kate D. Campanale [17th Worcester District].
  • Senator Barbara L’Italien [2nd Essex and Middlesex]
  • Representative Harold J. Naughton, Jr. [12th Worcester District]
  • Kenneth Bergeron, Legislative Aide to Representative Jim O’Day [14th Worcester District]
  • Representive Jeffrey Roy [10th Norfolk District]
  • Don Siriani, Director of Legislative Affairs and Communications to Senator Bruce Tarr [First Essex and Middlesex)
  • Senator Dean Tran [Worcester and Middlesex]

Guests included the parents of a current Perkins student, Michael and Cheryl Harrington. Mrs. Harrington shared with the audience a time when her daughter was struggling at home and in school. She said, “What started out as frequent moments of distress turned into daily struggles and finally a crisis that needed to be addressed.  As a stay-at-home mom, I felt like a failure, I was no longer a member of the school committee or other school related events because my child was unable to cope at school.”

Cheryl Harrington

It was the Perkins’ staff’s dedication, as well as the feeling of hope, that made Mrs. Harrington comfortable with the decision to send her daughter to Perkins. “I came into Perkins feeling like a failure, and left with a feeling of hope. The admissions team was amazing, the school was not hidden and it was clear that the staff was willing to support both the student and the family. Here, we are not considered a failure of public school, but rather a Perkins success.”

The Harrington’s daughter also spoke of her appreciation for Perkins. She said, “I was in the seventh grade when I arrived here, and I was struggling. My days were rough, I was angry often and I didn’t trust anyone. Today, I like to refer to that as a rough patch because I have learned that like a patch, I can rip the hard times off of me and move on.” She went on to explain that in public school she was a student, but here at Perkins she feels like a person.

Director of Education Cindy Wing wanted those in attendance to know that Perkins takes a unique and passionate view of education. She said, “We strive to develop a meaningful pathway to success and focus on children developing internal strategies for social, emotional and academic success. This helps to develop a lifelong strategy for success and instill a value for learning.”

Chief Operating Officer Tim Hammond spoke about three key words that come to mind when he thinks of Perkins: comprehensive, intensive, and – most important of all – normal. “You will see normal life here as you walk through our buildings. Here, kids are meant to be kids. They are meant to learn and grow, have fun, and screw up as that is what kids do. It is not our job to fix them, but to support them, to keep them on track and discover the people they are meant to become,” Hammond said.

Cindy Wing, Director of Education

The event was co-hosted by Perkins and the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools (maaps). James Major, Executive Director for maaps, thanked Mrs. Harrington and her daughter for their honesty and for highlighting the importance of schools like Perkins. He then spoke briefly to those gathered and encouraged them to advocate for a fully-funded circuit breaker account for FY19.  A fully funded account would contain $323,438,312. “The account is currently underfunded,” Major said. “I would ask that you support a supplemental budget of $36,633,756 to the circuit breaker account for FY18.”

At the conclusion of the program, each legislator was paired with a student from his/her district and given a tour of the school.

“This day was everything we had hoped it would be,” stated Michael Ames. “I am so impressed by and grateful for our student speaker and the student council who worked hard to make the morning memorable for those who attended. We are very proud of the work of our students and staff. The opportunity to highlight our programs for such an important group of advocates was very rewarding. It was a terrific day for Perkins.”