Ms. Perryman: Legendary Luminary

Samantha Edinberg

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

First thing in the morning, you’re welcomed by an expansive view of the sunrise as you walk into Ms. Perryman’s corner classroom, which the English teacher earned through 29 years of hard work at Westborough High School. She has taught an impressive variety of courses for students of all high school ages, and she continues to be a phenomenal, engaging teacher.

Ms. Diane Perryman attended Williams College in western Massachusetts for undergraduate school, majoring in English. For graduate school, she attended Brown University in Rhode Island and used their ‘one-summer, one-year’ course. This course included a student-teaching program in Providence. She then moved to New Jersey before coming to Massachusetts and receiving a job at Westborough High School in 1990, which, she claims, was unexpected since there was just one opening and numerous applications. Because schools throughout the nation were cutting the school budgets, very few schools were hiring teachers, so she did not expect to receive this job. She shared a series of rooms with different teachers because of the limited space before the renovation of the high school in 2001.

Ms. Perryman, regardless of her history, didn’t decide to become a teacher until the end of her college career. She was a “complete reader,” meaning she read at every possible moment, throughout her childhood and enjoyed playing a game where she’d teach her friends. In high school, she thought she would become a lawyer because “that’s what everybody in high school thought if they weren’t science-oriented. If you were science-oriented, you wanted to be a doctor.”

Ms. Perryman chose high school because of the regular routine: “I really like the daily-ness of it…if you’re a college professor, you teach a class once or, maybe, twice a week.” Another reason she likes it is she wouldn’t want to write about the specific details of literature, as most professors do. Ms. Perryman would rather look at the overarching themes of writing.

Ultimately, though, Ms. Perryman decided to teach high school because she finds the age group fascinating and fun: “the students, absolutely,” are Ms. Perryman’s favorite part of the job: “it is so fun to be with people this age …people are interested in learning things!” She finds her job to be a place where she can laugh and have some fun, and that’s very valuable to her. Ms. Perryman also says that she loves the books, such as Hamlet and Lord of the Flies, and specifically, “thinking about what books can show us about ourselves and of the world.”

Despite all the previously mentioned reasons she enjoys teaching, there are always downsides. For example, Ms. Perryman often says, “I’d teach for free; they pay me to grade the papers.” Another inconvenience for the English department, in general, is the nationwide expectation that they should prepare the students in certain, possibly inefficient, aspects of English for the purpose of standardized tests. Philosophically, Ms. Perryman disagrees with the idea of the standardized tests. She believes that students should focus on what comes naturally to them instead of the technical terminology behind it. Ms. Perryman also finds it unfair that Westborough teachers need to lower their expectations and guidelines of students and their work based on other schools that aren’t as advanced.

This year, she is teaching the main English courses for the freshman and sophomore classes in addition to the AP Literature and Composition class for seniors, Modernism with two other Westborough High School teachers for juniors and seniors, and a Creative Writing course that is open to all grades.

One of Ms. Perryman’s classes which she finds the most intriguing is the Modernism class. “It is unique in that I am in there with…an art teacher and a music teacher…it’s a pretty unusual opportunity to be co-teaching with people who are masters in their disciplines…art, music, and literature reveals so much about the…philosophy and political choices.” In addition, she loves her AP Literature and Composition class because of the books, intelligence, focus of the students, and visible progression of the writing from her students. Creative Writing is a strange class to be teaching because, she says, “I am not much of a creative writer…but because I’m a reader, I know what goes into the writing, and so, I can help other people do it.” Ultimately, it is apparent that from her variety of courses Ms. Perryman values the opportunity she has to teach different classes: “the most important thing for me is that I teach four different classes, and not that I just get trapped into teaching one or two things.” She enjoys preparing for each of the classes, and explained that grading can become repetitive if she taught four classes of the same courses.

In the past however, Ms. Perryman was the drama teacher, the head of Center Stage, and had directed several school musicals over the course of ten years, in addition to teaching English classes. She would arrive at school at 7:00 AM and leave at around 6:30 PM every day, with her heavy workload. “I completely and totally miss it…it’s just not doable anymore,” she said on the topic of directing. “It was a lot. It was great, it was wonderful, we did some amazing things…” Her childhood experiences of watching musicals with her family on Broadway, such as Sweeney Todd, Pirates of Penzance, and Rent, have fed into this affection of directing.

Outside of school, Ms. Perryman spends her time watching HGTV or the news. “I follow the news obsessively…I read all these blogs…the New York Times…the Boston Globe and the Washington Post every day online…I’m very political.” She then elaborated on her opinions on the political circumstances from the last few years: “[They] have been so horrifying that now the reason I follow it [the news] obsessively is I feel like if I don’t pay attention for a few minutes, something terrible might have happened…it’s more like this constant sense of agitation than interest.”

In addition to watching and reading the news, she still loves to read, visit art museums, and watch plays. Ms. Perryman also enjoys travelling to cities, such as New York City and Chicago, specifically because she lives in a rural area. When she lived in a city, she would visit the country for vacations. “I think that travelling is good for everybody, and everyone should travel as much as they can.”

According to sophomore, Ella Wahlers, who takes the creative writing elective, “Ms. Perryman is an amazing teacher who uses a variety of resources…to teach her students about writing creatively. She’s very clearly passionate about teaching and writing, and her enthusiasm for the job makes it fun to learn from her.” Another sophomore, Penelope Russell, adds, “she’s one of my favorite teachers. I’ve had her two years in a row…I love how positive and funny she is and her classes are so entertaining…I wish I could have her next year.” Ms. Perryman is a thoughtful and marvellous teacher that you want to have during your high school experience.