Featured Teacher: Thornton Perkins

Thornton Perkins

Photo by Andrei Pop

By Ala Kaymaram
Staff Writer

Thornton Perkins, a professor of history, has been teaching at WCC for 15 years. He teaches United States history Since 1877, twentieth century history, African-American history, and Michigan history.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Did you grow up in Michigan?

A: I grew up in Detroit. I went to Roosevelt Elementary School. I liked sports; I used to go to a lot of baseball and football games. We had a nice group in our community, so I had a good time in high school. I was very active in high school too. I had a great social life. Sports and music were my interests.

Q: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

A: First, I went to Tennessee State College in Nashville, a historically black college and university, then I went to Wayne State University. I majored in history and minored in political science.

Q: Is there a period in history that is your favorite?

A: In my master’s, I took recent American history and African history.

Q: Have you taught any other subjects besides history?

A: I have briefly taught English and physical education as well.

Q: Have you taught at any other colleges or universities?

A: I have taught at Irvine Community College, DeVry University, Oakland County Community college, and Wayne County Community college.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to major in history before you entered college, or did you start taking classes and then discovered that history should be your major?

A: When I was a kid, I used to read the encyclopedia all the time. It had a lot of maps and a lot of history about different people. I was always interested in the geography of different countries, different groups of people, finding out about them, and how they live. That was very important to me.

Q: How did you decide to pursue a career in teaching?

A: Teaching is a very rewarding profession. You get a chance to instill positivism within the people that you are around. I have been doing this for 42 years. It is a long time, right? That’s way before you were born [laughs]. I have been doing it all my life, and I enjoy it. Incidentally, WCC is a good place to work. This is a good place to teach.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Meeting new students and becoming acquainted with them, and seeing students learn the things that they didn’t know before.

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned as a teacher?

A: To bring the best out of every student by encouraging students to reach within themselves and find a good performance.

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