Patricia Daniels Retires From S.B. Schools
By Dianne Anderson
Retirement this month is a little bit bittersweet for Patricia Daniels Perry as she steps away from her lifelong love of teaching.
“I’m extremely excited, I’m happy-sad. It’s been 45 years,” said Ms. Daniels, who has served 32 years with San Bernardino City Unified School District.
Perry has influenced countless thousands of students, where, as coordinator in special education, she made sure children received proper services based on IEP [Individualized Education Program], offering support for teachers in schools with meetings.
All students deserve the best education, and she feels that teachers must remain passionate about that goal, and their families understand they genuinely care.
In her own journey, she said the best part of being a teacher was seeing so many of her students, educated a generation ago, return just to say thanks.
“They are coming back, and it’s an honor, I feel very humbled when they say Miss Daniels, you helped me so here are my kids. You need to work with them. Maybe I did something right,” she laughs.
Daniels started her first teaching assignment in 1975 straight out of college as a reading specialist and a first-grade teacher in Louisiana, where she served several years before getting into Special Education, also working with children at a state hospital. Eventually, her path led to San Bernardino Unified School District, where she taught special day class for fourth through sixth grades, served as a K-6 teacher, and from there, as vice principal at both Wilson Elementary and later North Park Elementary.
For the past 21 years, she has worked at the district office as coordinator of special education.
Overall, she hopes for education in general, and special education programs specifically, that programs and services will expand to make them more aware of how to take a greater role in their child’s education.
During the coming months, she intends to take a break to reconnect with the family, and enjoy quiet time with her husband, Bishop Irvin Perry, and have fun with the grandkids.
She also plans to travel, but she doesn’t envision leaving education altogether. In time, she hopes to come back to assess the needs in the community, and how, as a veteran, she may bridge some of the education gaps.
“With younger teachers, every generation does things differently, it doesn’t make it right or wrong. How can we bridge all of the differences and make sure we don’t get rid of everything from the old and just embrace the new?” she said.
She would like to see more programs and workarounds to basic learning problems.
New school approaches could be incorporated with old school methods. Today, parents and teachers are overwhelmed in areas that were not a problem when she was growing up.
“Life is in session, things are happening and parents are always facing challenges. Children come to the teachers and the schools these days with so many needs,” she said.
Reading is one area that must take priority. She said it’s important that parents grasp the value of getting their kids involved, and it could be as simple reading anything, even labels, as long as they’re sounding out words.
Because students are lagging, they don’t want to read out loud in class. What may be construed as a behavioral problem could be an academic problem, she said.
“It’s easier to act out. Nobody stops to ask them why they’re acting out,” she said.
If they don’t understand the work, they may purposely create a distraction rather than be embarrassed in front of the class or their friends.
“You have a distraction there. Then they don’t have to read, and now the teacher now has to stop and get the class back on track,” she said.
For teachers wanting to get into her field of special education, she believes probably the first qualification is they have a lot of heart. Getting to know the kids, establishing a relationship is the main goal. She believes students rise to a higher standard when they know that someone cares.
Having served so many in San Bernardino city schools, she’s amazed at the friendships, the fun in volunteering in the community in her earlier years, and support for families.
“I will truly cherish all of my time and all of the friendships from San Bernardino city schools, as well as the community,” she said. “It’s been a great opportunity and experience.”