Motivational speaker talks to educators

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, August 5, 2015

web2DSC_0457 fixedBogalusa City Schools hosted a Back to School rally on Monday at Bogalusa Grill and Event Center. The event gave officials an opportunity to welcome new staff at each school.

Attendees also heard motivational speaker John Perricone. He taught school for 31 years in upstate New York and received numerous awards for his teaching methods. The one constant Perricone attempted to instill in the audience was having a burning passion for the job. He won the prestigious Maine-Endwell’s Distinguished Teacher Award for 12 consecutive years.

Perricone is also a seventh-degree black belt in karate. He said discipline in the martial arts is much like that in the teaching profession.

“I’m here to speak to the teacher about the profundity of their mission as teachers,” Perricone said. “When I say teacher, I’m talking about any adult whose life potentially intersects with a young person’s, and they could be a teacher to that child.”

Perricone taught health education and psychology in the Maine-Endwell School District and his sense of humor was very evident as he spoke.

“I’m the guy you love to hate on staff development day,” Perricone said. “My promise to you is to make our time together meaningful. All I ask in return is your courtesy to listen.”

Perricone asked the audience to participate by identifying who they thought they were and what they thought their jobs were. He said the drill was like identifying an identity crisis.

“My real goal was for you to really identify 10 things you thought you were,” Perricone said. “The strategy is the less we ask of our students, the less they will give.”

Perricone quoted a number of philosophers and deep thinkers in his talk.

“Teaching is a race that never satisfies and never ends,” Perricone said. “Souls are thirsting for something deeper.”

Perricone talked about financial studies involving those who earn high pay and those on the bottom scale.

“In the final analysis, studies have shown people who make $5 million a year are not any happier than those who make $50,000,” Perricone said.

Perricone put the teaching profession on a pedestal when he compared the wolrd’s top professions.

“You have medicine, law, clergy and education. Education makes all the other professions possible,” Perricone said. “In your decision to be a teacher you embarked on the noblest of sojourns. One universal lament of teachers is all the standardized testing. My opinion of standardized testing is it serves political ends and not education. Little children are being pawns. They are not units of measurement. I feel standardized testing is important, but it should be only diagnostic in nature.”

Perricone said teachers are meant to make a difference in students’ lives in and out of school.

“To make a meaningful difference in the lives of our students is our job,” Perricone said. “For 31 years I got paid to help my students evolve. The rewards of our work are immeasurable.”

Perricone said karate’s sho-shin philosophy taught him to be the best he could be.

“The true nobility is not being better than others, but being better than what you used to be,” Perricone said.

Perricone said teachers should show passion and sincerity in their job.

“When somebody is faking it, everybody knows it.” Perricone said.