RTHS Assistant Principal Perrin to retire at end of year after 30 years with district

Perrin taught English at RTHS for 23 years: ‘The people are the reason why I enjoyed my job’

By Jeff Helfrich, Managing Editor
Posted 5/24/24

Rochelle Township High School Assistant Principal Dr. David Perrin will be retiring at the end of the school year this month. 

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RTHS Assistant Principal Perrin to retire at end of year after 30 years with district

Perrin taught English at RTHS for 23 years: ‘The people are the reason why I enjoyed my job’


ROCHELLE — Rochelle Township High School Assistant Principal Dr. David Perrin will be retiring at the end of the school year this month. 

Perrin has been at RTHS for 30 years, and has been assistant principal for the past seven. He taught English for 23 years before that. Following graduation from Illinois State University, Perrin taught for three years in Paw Paw. He has a total of 33 years of education experience. 

Perrin was pre-law in college. After working with kids at a summer camp over three summers as a counselor and meeting friends that were studying to be teachers, he changed his course to education.

“I had a blast and I loved working with kids,” Perrin said. “I thought it was something I should do. That's how I got into education. I came to RTHS in 1994 and I've been here ever since. It's just been a great place to teach. I taught American literature, AP English, and dual-credit advanced composition. It's been nice to watch that dual credit program that I kind of started come into maturity. I've worked with a lot of great people.”

Seven years ago, Superintendent Jason Harper called Perrin and asked if he’d like to be RTHS’s assistant principal.

“I had my certification to do it, but I never really planned on using it,” Perrin said. “The thing that appealed to me about this job was getting to work with a lot of young teachers. In my mind, that made it a little like teaching. Working with people just starting out in education has been a lot of fun.”

After becoming assistant principal, Perrin said he found it strange not having papers to grade anymore. As a teacher, he served on the RTHS school improvement team for over 20 years, which he said gave him a good grasp of administrative angles of education. 

Perrin learned to navigate the change of going from working with students to working with teachers. He’s spent the past year training Assistant Principal Alison Vrana and Dean of Students Brett Zick, who will be taking over his responsibilities next year. 

“Working with teachers is a lot different than working with kids,” Perrin said. “They both have their challenges, but it's an entirely different skillset. I was able to do it for seven years and I'm really glad I got to do it. I learned a lot. I worked with a brand new set of great people.”

Teaching English was a natural fit for Perrin, who enjoyed reading and excelled at writing growing up. He believes teaching students to write is important, so they can be skilled at communicating their thoughts to have a say in the world around them.

In retirement, Perrin and his wife will be moving to North Carolina, where he has plans to potentially teach writing at the college level after getting settled. 

“Communication is a part of everything we do,” Perrin said. “If you think about our motto here at RTHS, 'Preparing students for their tomorrow', writing is a huge part of that. Across any line of work, you're going to have some written communication responsibilities. Whether it's sending an email or taking a position on something, you have to be able to articulate yourself in writing if you want a seat at the table.”

Perrin said he’s enjoyed seeing some of the successes of his former students. Some of those students have become colleagues for him at RTHS. From 1994-2005, he taught in the previous RTHS building on North 7th Street. While a lot has changed in the district over his 30 years, Perrin said teaching at its core hasn’t.

“I think teenagers are still teenagers all these years later,” Perrin said. “The world around them has changed and technology has changed. A lot of us in this building started teaching before the internet. I remember the early computers we used. Technology has changed a ton. The teaching is still kind of the same. You give kids a goal and you try to help them achieve it. That part will probably never change. But how we do it has changed a lot and it will continue to change.”

In the past few years since the COVID-19 pandemic, Perrin has been tasked with leading RTHS’s efforts in dealing with the impacts of 2020 and 2021 on education locally. Attendance and grade metrics are now back to pre-pandemic norms, he said. 

The remote learning model necessitated by the pandemic forced teachers to learn on the fly and left behind tools that have been useful in classrooms since, Perrin said. 

“A lot of those things like Google Classroom, Zoom, Cahoot and apps we used during that time have stuck,”  Perrin said. “We were kind of introduced to those things during the pandemic and we've been able to continue to use a lot of that stuff across the board. That's been a good thing.”

RTHS has also seen the impacts of a nationwide teacher shortage in recent years, which has been another one of Perrin’s priorities as assistant principal. An open teaching position that used to see large stacks of resumes applying for it now typically sees three or four applications, Perrin said. 

Despite the shortage, RTHS has been able to make the hires it needed in recent years. 

“I think one of the things I'm proudest of in this aspect of my career is in the midst of an unprecedented teacher shortage, we've managed to stock the shelves with a large number of quality young teachers and hopefully we can continue to attract and retain that kind of caliber of teachers,” Perrin said. “I think that's a testament to the school and the whole community.”

Perrin said he was happy to make progress on hiring and post-pandemic work before his retirement. He’s excited about the trajectory that RTHS is on.

“I think from the district leadership level all the way down to teaching, we're in a really good spot right now,” Perrin said. 

“The people are the reason why I enjoyed my job. Without a doubt. There is a teacher in this building for every kid to look to. We support kids and I think we do a lot of things the right way. That part hasn't changed in my 30 years here across two buildings. The tone has remained the same.”