10 questions with James Perry

Perry was named to the newly created position, Director of Student Life, in February 2014.

1. What are the parameters that differentiate the new position Director of Student Life and the old title Dean of Students?

I think historically, “Dean of Students” carries with it more of a disciplinary feel, someone who is in charge of making sure that the rules and procedures are clear. I think the change to “Director of Student Life” gives it the feel of the entire emotional and social well-being of the student.

2. Joe Chodl, your predecessor, was prominently in charge of admonishing students. Will you continue this role, and if so, how will you balance your role as a ‘friend’ to the students in addition to your role as a disciplinarian?

I think the biggest thing is letting kids know that it’s okay to make a mistake. I think you need to make the rules very clear… And then, when a kid slips up and he does something, whatever that punishment may be, [let] them understand that they are not necessarily judged because of that. We all make mistakes, and in the past, I’ve been able to have great relationships with kids that I’ve reprimanded or disciplined in some way. So when I see that kid, a day later, it’s not that I look at them any differently, or look down at them.

3. What are your goals as a new member of the administration of ASL?

My goals as far as the students are concerned is that everybody feels safe and welcome here and because of that, they’re able to get the best education they can. [And], because of those first two things, that they can then have a great time, have fun and leave ASL saying “I love that place.”

4. Define “community”.

When I think of community, I think of an interconnected set of people, places and events, that all have something in common. For ASL, I think it’s both geographic [and] people who are part of the ASL community who don’t necessarily go to school here. Maybe they work here in some capacity, or maybe it’s the guy who serves coffee at Starbucks or sandwiches at Bruno’s. Anyone who has a hand in interacting with a child’s educational experience at ASL I would say is part of our community.

5. What changes do you hope to implement in the High School?

Before I implement any changes I need to figure out sort of what works right now and what doesn’t work and what is needed. I get the feeling early on that there are a lot of things that were done in the past that were sort of done off the cuff, maybe without policies or procedures, so establishing more strict guidelines, not necessarily being more strict from an un-adult point of view, but establishing more clear rules and guidelines for how things operate.

6. Do you think that there is a strong pressure on the students to academically perform a certain way?

I think that there’s pressure at every American institution to perform academically, I think a lot of it is college-driven, it’s parent-driven, it’s also student-driven, AP-driven, so I suppose some of that pressure is healthy, but I wish it wasn’t all there.

7. If you had to go on a date with one celebrity, who would it be?

When I was younger I had a huge crush on Elisabeth Shue, because she was the star in… I think it was Adventures in Babysitting; huge crush on her. And then maybe Scarlett Johansson, but I’ve already cleared that with my wife; she’s aware of those two.

8. If you were to be reincarnated as a vegetable, which one would it be and why?

A carrot, I like carrots. I like raw carrots. I like how they can be dirty, you can peel them for two seconds and then you have this great snack. They taste sweet to me and I think they’re good for your eyesight.

9. What was the last show you binge-watched?

House of Cards, and before that, Breaking Bad. [My wife and I] only watched three or four [episodes of House of Cards] a day. The worst I ever got was a few years ago, with Prison Break, I kind of got addicted. The most recent [television series] I watched was Fargo, it’s one season and based on the movie Fargo that came out five or 10 years ago. It’s good; I recommend it.

10. Tell us about your dog.

I love our dog. Her name is Georgina, and her birthday is (September 4), she turns one year old. She’s a golden retriever, she was a birthday present for me, I got her in late October, a week before I heard about the possibility of this job. Had it been the other way around, had I heard about this job and then the thought of a dog came up, I might have said no, so we brought her over here and we love her. Until we have kids, she’s sort of our de facto child and she’s a lot of fun.

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