Winning the Race
Prestige Academy founder and president Jack Perry draws from his own experience to help prepare the school’s students for success.
(page 1 of 7)
Looking down, you notice small, black arrows on the floor that direct the flow of traffic in neat single file. You look up to see college banners on the walls, each denoting the bright potential of success. And there’s the quiet of the students—all of them boys, all of them in shirt-and-tie uniforms—as they travel to and from the lavatory or office, following the arrows, turning on the boxes painted at hallway intersections. You’re struck by the colorful classrooms, and you notice that each is named after a prominent institution of higher learning: Notre Dame, Bloomsburg, University of Virginia.
Then you notice something about the teachers. It’s something that hangs around their necks. Something small and black. Something important.
And it’s not just the teachers who wear them. Every adult does: the nurse, the office staff, the dean of students—even Jack Perry, Prestige Academy’s 36-year-old founder and president.
Sitting behind his office desk, gazing through a large window that faces Thatcher Avenue, Perry’s stopwatch lays against the well-pressed fabric of his blue-and-white Oxford shirt. Sometimes he adjusts its position thoughtfully, as one would a tie. But it isn’t until nearly two hours of conversation have passed that he acknowledges the stopwatch directly.
“When our fifth-graders first came here, they were two or three grade levels behind where they should have been, so we’re playing catch up,” Perry says. “By the time these boys leave here, they need to be at an eighth-grade level or above. That’s why you see those urgency signs.” He nods toward a large sign on the wall that reads urgency. “And that’s why we wear these stopwatches.”
“Everyone. We even have a little ceremony at the beginning of the year where we present them to the faculty. It symbolizes urgency.”
He holds his for a moment in a tight fist, then releases.
“We can’t waste any time. Time has already been wasted. We’re running a race that started two years before we even got here.”
Page 2: Winning the Race, continues...