PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A former educator led the charge Tuesday night to honor another former educator for her years of work in Peoria.
Chuck Grayeb, who taught and worked at Peoria Public Schools, then known as District 150, led the charge to give Aurthur Mae Perkins flowers for efforts to help Peoria’s children.
“She was always concerned first and foremost with those children in her charge. That was her first priority,” said the 2nd District Councilman at the meeting.
Grayeb said during her time as principal of Harrison School, Perkins would see why students would miss school as well as assist students who came to school looking less than presentable.
In addition to being an educator, Perkins also served on the library and Peoria Housing Authority boards. Grayeb said Perkins helped turn the housing authority around when it was ranked as one of the worst in the state.
“You don’t know leaders when things are going well. You know them when they’re tested and when there are problems. Aurthur Mae Perkins rose to the occasion every single time,” he said.
The Peoria Historical Society gifted Perkins with a framed stage curtain bearing the letter “H” which was salvaged before the old Harrison building was demolished in May.
“There was never any question where this should rest,” said Ed Barry of the Peoria Historical Society. “We’re delighted to present it to Aurthur Mae Perkins tonight.”
The PHA also announced it has renamed its Providence Pointe Recreation Center after Perkins.
Tears flooded the retired principal’s face as she received standing ovation while surrounded by her family.
“I love children, I love what I do. And it was God’s calling that put me in Harrison School at a time when Harrison School needed someone to love them,” she said.
Perkins said she knocked on doors and helped students with their hygiene because you take care of those who you love.
“I knew education was the key for the success and they couldn’t get it at home playing any video games,” she said with tears in her eyes. “And Chuck I didn’t wash their clothes for any glory. I wanted them to be proud of themselves. So, that when they came to school they looked like other children and they didn’t smell. I had toothbrushes too.”
Perkins is one of the longest serving principals in Peoria Public Schools’ history. Peoria’s Mayor Dr. Rita Ali said Perkins is a warrior for children’s education.
“You will go down in history as one of the greatest educators in this city,” said Ali.