Renita Perkins

Position: Principal

School: Stratton School

School District: Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

City, State: Madison, Tennessee

About the Nominee: Renita Perkins was nominated by Danielle Jones on December 29th, 2016. This is the second year Ms. Perkins has been nominated for LifeChanger of the Year. She was previously nominated in 2014-15. The following profile contains information from her most recent nomination: In 2009, Ms. Jones was forced to leave a school where she had spent 10 years perfecting her craft. Her school district had a teacher fair with the school leaders in a central location, where all of the displaced teachers were able to go to whatever school they wanted and interview with them. Ms. Jones was unable to find a school she felt comfortable at. As fate would have it, Ms. Jones found a new position at Taylor Stratton Elementary School. She told her teacher friends, who said it was a great school where people stayed for a long time. They hadn’t heard of any complaints.

Ms. Jones entered the school in the prospects of finding a new home. Her first two years were good; her team was wonderful and helpful, and the students were extraordinary! It still didn’t feel like home, however. In her third year, Stratton Elementary faced many challenges. Teachers were frustrated, and students were overwhelmed. It reached a point where Ms. Jones was ready to go back to her hometown of Memphis, TN.

At the end of Ms. Jones’ third year, she and her colleagues found out that Mrs. Perkins was to be their new principal. The teacher talk began...and no one knew who Mrs. Perkins was or what to expect.

One night, an email came stating that Mrs. Perkins would be visiting the school the following day. The next day, she walked through the hall and stopped by Ms. Jones’ room, listened for a second, smiled and moved to the next room. When she smiled, Ms. Jones felt a small flicker of hope. Later that evening, Mrs. Perkins sent an email to the entire school asking to meet with everyone who planned on staying at Stratton the next year. At the time, Ms. Jones thought there was no need for her to meet with Mrs. Perkins; her boxes were packed, the UHAUL was rented and the storage in Memphis was waiting on her school supplies. As fate would have it, the two educators would meet.

The day they were set to meet was rainy, dark and filled with despair. Ms. Jones grabbed her children and met her "teacher best friend" at Mrs. Perkins' former school. She went in for her interview, and immediately, her shoulders relaxed and the butterflies subsided. Her objective was to talk about the person she was and the type of educator she wanted to be. At the end of the appointment, the butterflies were long gone and Ms. Jones walked out the door. When she exited the building, the rain had stopped and a beam of sunlight was struggling to get through. Ms. Jones went to Stratton to meet her "teacher best friend" to pick up her kids. When she pulled into the driveway, a giant rainbow was over the entire school. At that moment, Ms. Jones knew that Taylor Stratton was getting a cleansing and everything would be better!

Needless to say, extraordinary things have happened in the past 3 years. Discipline is down considerably, academics are on the rise and students and staff are happy. The halls are cleaner, learning is happening and support is taking place.

Ms. Jones states that her rainbow, Mrs. Perkins, believed in her ability to be a teacher of excellence! Ms. Jones has gone from being a level 2 teacher to a strong level 5 teacher! She is in more leadership positions at Stratton and was named Teacher of the Year in 2016, not only for the school, but for all of Nashville on the elementary level! Talk about life changing!

Since Mrs. Perkins has been principal, Stratton has been voted as the best school in the East Nashville region. The school is currently making strides to exceed excellence on every level, and with Mrs. Perkins leading them, it’s only a short time before the school is recognized as being the number one school in all of Nashville. They owe it all to Mrs. Perkins, their LifeChanger!

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