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Pictured is elementary education major and teacher Clifford Perkins. | Photo by Jim Judkis

Meet Clifford Perkins

Job Title: Elementary Science Teacher
Dilworth Elementary, located in Highland Park section of Pittsburgh, part of Pittsburgh Public Schools
Degrees earned:
Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, Point Park University and Associate in Science in general studies, Community College of Allegheny County
Graduation years:
2009 and 2004
Currently pursuing:
Master of Education in Teaching and Leadership, Point Park University
Hometown and current residence: Pittsburgh, Pa.
My wife, two sons, two daughters and grandson; the Steelers, the outdoors, fishing, sports and gardening

Who inspired you to pursue a career in the education field?

My wife Leslie is a teacher and came from a family of teachers so they all inspired me. Also, the lack of African American males teaching in the classrooms where I worked inspired me to teach. Children need to see diversity at work inside the classroom.

Prior to becoming a teacher, I was a paraprofessional in the classroom and always said to myself "I can lead a classroom. I can do that." Managing a classroom is not as easy as some people might perceive it but the effort is well worth it. Becoming a teacher was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Describe Point Park's education professors.

They are top-notch, highly qualified and very instructionally sound.

What do you enjoy most about being an elementary teacher?

It sounds cliché but I really enjoy making a difference. It's about more than teaching. It's about creating and building relationships with the students. Trust must first be built before you are able to truly teach a child. I always tell my students "I want you to look forward to coming to my class."

Why did you decide to return to Point Park for your master's degree?

Education is constantly evolving so I wanted to improve my current knowledge and learn the most up-to-date 21st century teaching models. Point Park's teaching and leadership master's program really focuses on teaching methods and will enhance my leadership skills and overall marketability. I chose Point Park for graduate school based on my positive experiences in the undergraduate program and for the small class sizes. A small classroom environment is where I learn best.

What are your career goals?

My ultimate career goal is to become an administrator at some level. I'd like to be involved in the decision-making processes for classrooms using my experience as a guide. Long term, I'm also considering earning a doctorate degree in education.

What advice do you have for individuals interested in pursuing a career in education?

Set a goal for yourself and follow your dreams. Remember that the education field goes through its peaks and valleys so don't be discouraged. Also, remember that having Pennsylvania teaching certification holds a lot of weight in other states because of its high standards when it comes to testing, so be flexible when looking for job opportunities.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

My mother passed away suddenly in October. She was a beautiful, kind and compassionate woman and is responsible for molding me to be the man I am today. I'll never forget how compassionate and caring Point Park's education department was to me during that time. This solidified Point Park's quality reputation to me. The professors really cared about me as a person. I would especially like to thank Dr. Darlene Marnich, Dr. Stanley Denton, Dr. Vincenne Revilla Beltrán and Dr. Richard Gutkind for giving me the push I sometimes needed.

More About: graduate education, success story, elementary education, education