West Side Story staff met with Hamblen County superintendent Dr. Jeff Perry Wednesday Feb. 26 to find out fun facts about him. He first praised Hamblen County Schools because of its great teachers and administration that truly care for and help students succeed every day. Perry said, “If it was not for these people, Hamblen County could not flourish.” Furthermore, Perry commented that “the county is growing swiftly.” He explained that Hamblen County may not be the largest school district out of Tennessee, but it is the largest out of this First Core Region I which includes Hamblen County to all school systems east of this one. Perry also emphasized that about 320 million people a day are using something made in Hamblen County. Hamblen County is mighty and growing at exceptional rates.
Perry then shared about his favorite hunting and fishing stories. He likes to hunt anywhere possible but mostly high in the mountains. Perry specifically enjoys hunting in Colorado. Perry has hunted in six or seven different countries. The Hamblen superintendent has hunted all kinds of animals including Deer, Elk, Moose, Mountain Lions, and many others. He explained, "The largest fish I caught were a 300 lb. blue Marlin and a few sailfish over 200lbs."
When it comes to food, Perry shared about his favorite bites and restaurant. He commented that he and his wife enjoy eating at the Davy Crockett restaurant in Morristown. The superintendent enjoys all the different types of food, but his favorite food is steak.
For sports besides hunting, Perry enjoys hiking. In high school he played football, tennis, and ran track. Perry elaborated on his favorite place to rock climb: it is Raven's Roost Overlook where he once took a student group.
Hamblen County is in need of filling positions for teachers. A new plan is in place for Hamblen County students who want to become future teachers. Perry explained a program that will be starting soon for those who decide while still in high school they want to be an educator. They can attend Walters State Community College and major in education. The TN Promise scholarship will pay for the first two years of college. Then students can attend Western Governor College for online courses. Hamblen County schools will pay for a student’s last two years of college while they work 180 days in the school system while in college. These jobs will be a teacher assistant or substitute. These college students must promise to teach for Hamblen County schools after they graduate. Another thing that Perry mentioned is that special education, ELL, and math teachers are needed the most. Nearly 60-70 new teachers are hired to work in Hamblen County schools each year.
Perry shared with the West Side Story staff that he truly cares for Hamblen County students. He and most of the teachers in the school system love the students and want what is best for them. Perry wants to see students thrive and move onto successful careers and future education opportunities. Perry explained that students have a large voice and can make a difference. He explained, "At a recent County Commission meeting, it was a West High student speech that sparked the interest of commissioners over adult presentations." Perry encourages students and parents to reach out to him if they have questions.