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'We can't let society fail our children': Edmondson-Westside principal carries on family tradition

Edmondson Westside High fighting to keep trade programs
Posted at 10:50 PM, Mar 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-12 23:54:59-04

BALTIMORE — Dating back to the 1940s, the Perry family has been educating students in Baltimore.

"My grandmother taught for 27 years, Baltimore City Schools. My mother taught for 33 years in Baltimore City Schools," said Karl Perry, principal of Edmondson-Westside High School. "This was my mom here when she taught at Northeast Middle School this was in 1983. They had their own TV station back then and all of the equipment was donated from WMAR."

Principal Karl Perry is one of the more recent leaders to carry on the family’s tradition.

"22 years. Yes. I took over Calverton Middle School, February 1 2000," said Perry.

He says while working as an assistant principal at Polytech High School, the state was getting ready to take over Calverton Middle School, so he offered to go there and try to help change the culture.

"It was one of the worst schools in the state of Maryland," said Perry. "The children there weren't receiving a quality education, there was limited structure."

And that’s when he realized that part of the bigger picture of his mission was to create a safe learning environment for everyone.

After spending four and a half years at Calverton, he spent one year in Philadelphia after being selected in a national principal search to relocate. He then returned to Baltimore and helped open Renaissance Academy, where he spent the next seven years before taking over Edmondson-Westside High School.

"I've been here for 10 years," said Perry. "When I first arrived, it was chaotic. It was very dangerous. Children were not achieving."

When asked about the biggest challenges he faces as principal, Perry said it's the loss of a student.

"Probably the largest challenges we've ever had is losing a child. It's hard to overcome a loss of a child," said Perry. "The number in my 22 year career is close to 40. It eats away at you. It does."

This year, two Edmondson-Westside High School students were killed. In January, 16-year-old Deonta Dorsey was killed right across the street from school when four other students were also shot during their lunch break.

And in early February, 16-year-old Andres Moreno Jr. was shot and killed in northeast Baltimore. Police have since arrested at least one of the shooters in the Dorsey case. So far, no arrests for the murder of Andres Moreno Jr.

"It's traumatizing. It really is. You don't get over it takes a piece of your heart away. A child that you just saw yesterday, now he's gone. Or she's gone," said Perry.

However, Perry continues to promote a healthy and safe environment as the leader of Edmondson.

"We can't let society fail our children we have to prepare them to be great," said Perry. "They need a parent figure in school, someone who they can confide in and trust."

Perry says holding people accountable no matter their age, giving second chances, and continuing to encourage, could help change the violent culture of young adults.

"What we need to do is bridge the gap trust each other to better the lives of our children," said Perry. "But until we deal with this collectively and not pointing fingers its not going to change."

And continuing to fight for change is what he wants to embody as part of his family’s legacy.

"Continue to fight with your mind to do great things, you can accomplish all of your dreams and your goals. Be successful. If anybody tries to hold you back, move away from that person, so that you can be great. I believe in you, I trust you. I love you," said Perry.