Contact: Joe Vargo, Perris Public Information Officer
Phone: 951-956-2120
jvargo@cityofperris.org

"Passport to Perris" Brings Local History to Teachers

Railway Elementary School teacher Erin Woody says she will learn more about Perris and pass that knowledge on to students in her classroom
Railway Elementary School teacher Erin Woody says she will learn more about Perris and pass that knowledge on to students in her classroom.

Perris Elementary School District teachers and staff came to the City’s Bob Glass Gym Thursday and found themselves facing their first assignment of the upcoming school year.

The subjects: Geography, civics and history, with a little recreation science just for fun.

The task: Locate on a map City landmarks like the Victorian-era Depot Building, the Orange Empire Railway Museum, the Perris Auto Speedway, municipal police and fire department headquarters and the Perris Valley Airport, one of the busiest skydiving facilities on Earth.

The reason:  Help teach teachers about the City where they work, so they in turn could instruct their students about the highlights and history of the 101-year-old community.

Joyce Smith, a second-grade teacher at Innovative Horizons Charter School said field trips to historic sites make the City’s colorful history come alive
Joyce Smith, a second-grade teacher at Innovative Horizons Charter School said field trips to historic sites make the City’s colorful history come alive.

The post-exercise evaluation: A great learning tool teachers say they will build upon to tell their classrooms the story of Perris when the 2012-2013 school year begins on Monday.

“This was an awesome way to learn about the City of Perris,” said Erin Woody, who teaches at Railway Elementary School.

“I need to learn more about the City myself so I can let my students know more about the place they live in. They’ll learn more about their community and hopefully get more involved.”

Perris Mayor Daryl Busch welcomed the 600 teachers, administrators and support staff to the City gym. Busch said that many Perris teachers live outside the area and are not well acquainted with all the City has to offer.

Perris Mayor Daryl Busch and his wife, Kay, greeted many of the teachers and administrators who took part in the “Passport to Perris” event at Bob Glass Gym
Perris Mayor Daryl Busch and his wife, Kay, greeted many of the teachers and administrators who took part in the “Passport to Perris” event at Bob Glass Gym.

They know their campus and the immediate vicinity but are unaware of the larger City, its past, its historic buildings and museums and recreation venues.

“We want teachers, both new and with years of experience, to familiarize themselves with our City so they not only teach about them but show children where they are located in Perris,” Busch said. “They’ll learn and then their students will learn.”

Thursday’s back-to-school training session was labeled “Passport to Perris.”

Everyone received a passport book, which was stamped by visiting various tables and booths set up in the gym. Each booth provided educators with information about a specific location or landmark—from the Southern California Fairgrounds on the City’s north boundary to the Big League Dreams sports complex on the south.

Perris Mayor Daryl Busch holds a map of the City featuring the names and locations of many famous Perris landmarks. With him are Innovative Horizons Charter School teachers Melissa Balys and Annie Bravo
Perris Mayor Daryl Busch holds a map of the City featuring the names and locations of many famous Perris landmarks. With him are Innovative Horizons Charter School teachers Melissa Balys and Annie Bravo.

When the passport book was filled with stamps, participants were given large maps of the City and asked to locate the landmarks on them. The Perris Valley Historical and Museum Association and the Perris Valley Chamber of Commerce teamed up to create the passport and provide information about all the major sites in the City.

“When they leave here, they’ll know a lot more about Perris than they did at the beginning of the day,” said Perris historian Katie Keyes.

Veteran teacher Joyce Smith said she took her students on walking field trips to places like the Bank of Perris on D Street, the Depot Museum on Fourth Street and the State Bros. supermarket on Nuevo Road. Students created a mural about each field trip and composed their thoughts in diaries. Smith teaches second grade at Innovative Horizons Charter School and said Thursday’s “Passport to Perris” will help her learn additional information about the City’s history.

A close-up of the Passport to Perris
A close-up of the Passport to Perris.

Panels highlighting various aspects of the City’s past—which were created during last year’s Centennial celebration—were on display at the gym. Several teachers at Thursday’s event said they would like to see portions of the City Centennial exhibit travel to various schools and businesses in Perris.

“I am really excited about this City,” said Smith, who has been teaching in Perris for 24 years.

Kindergarten teacher Charlene Busch, who works at Railway Elementary School, said that while instructors took home lots of great information about the City on Thursday, students will be the big winners in the end. Students who learn about their communities when they are young will grow up to be assets and ambassadors for Perris in coming decades.

“We need our kids to understand our City has a rich history and heritage,” Busch said.