Old school in the new school
There are certain things I couldn’t be. I couldn’t be a fighter pilot, because my vision isn’t good enough. I couldn’t be a professional baseball player, because I can’t hit a curve ball. I couldn’t be a professional basketball player, because I’m not gargantuan — and I can’t jump. And I couldn’t be a teacher, because I’m not particularly patient. I think I’d do OK with the kids, because I like kids and they generally amuse me. The parents would be the problem. The first time one of them gave me grief about some poor grade or discipline I meted out to their child — which would be richly deserved, by the way, because I am very fair-minded — you would be reading about it the next day.
It is fortunate that there are people who possess the requisite patience, lest we become a nation of dolts. Couple that patience with boundless energy and enthusiasm, and you have something truly special. You have Carole Perry.
Perry is a director of the Radio Club of America. I spoke with her recently for an upcoming supplement to commemorate the club’s 100th anniversary. She spent roughly 30 years in the New York City school system and still volunteers in her retirement. While a teacher, she introduced her students to the joys of amateur radio. She’s still at it today, spearheading an RCA initiative designed to spark interest in the hobby — and, hopefully, interest in radio communications as a career — by placing related curricula into schools. When she finds out that a school might be interested, she races to visit them, wherever they are, on her own dime. RCA members scattered from coast to coast tip her off to opportunities and donate their time as volunteer instructors. “I get a lot of support from the ham community,” she said.
Perry said she gets little resistance from school administrators once she takes them through her 15-minute presentation. “I have my ducks in a row,” she told me. Perry also said that students are reacting enthusiastically to the program, which surprised me. I would have thought that amateur radio would seem too “old school” to today’s kids, given all of the gadgetry and content that’s readily accessible to them in the Internet age. But Perry assured me that she has found ways to make radio communications relevant. Once she got an astronaut to conduct a lesson from space on how to properly design a space suit, a communication that she said was possible only via amateur radio.
If you’re looking for a day-brightener, give Perry a call and let her tell you about what’s she’s up to — I guarantee the conversation will lift your spirits. While you’re on the phone with her, ask how you can get involved. While Perry might be able to give the Energizer bunny a run for its money in terms of enthusiasm and energy, she could use the help.