Goodbye, Mr. Peri

Olivia Sobkowicz, Assistant Editor

Many, if not everyone in our NDP community, know our beloved Mr. Peri will be retiring at the end of the year. For many years, Mr. Peri has graced these halls with his fun classes, exciting personality, and kind comments. He has taught numerous different classes in this school and has led 9A, along with Dr. Simmers, for a couple of years. I decided to interview this amazing teacher before his time here has come to an end.

How long have you taught at NDP?

“I have been here for 20 years.”

What classes have you taught during this time?

“I have taught phases 2, 3, 4, and 5 biology. Also, I have taught AP Bio and Anatomy & Physiology.”

Do you have a favorite story from your years here?

“I could tell you hundreds, but one story just happened last year.  For some reason Ryan Taylor ‘25 and I got into a conversation about old movies, and I was telling her I just watched ‘The Ghost & Mrs. Muir’ (1947 version) and her jaw dropped because she has the poster of that movie hanging in her room.  We started talking about the movie and how much of an old-time love story it was and we were both tearing up as we talked about how Rex Harrison, the ghost, left Mrs. Muir, who was a widow, after he fell in love with her.  He left her to have a normal life but came back to her as she was dying and now, they could finally be together.  That captures everything that makes teaching here so special.  There is no ‘Us’ vs. ‘Them’ attitude here, students and teachers are pulling in the same direction; we are on the same side, and we can have those moments where we are just two people who love the Ravens, or a special movie, or Taylor Swift.  Those moments of grace are irreplaceable.”

Do you have a favorite story you tell to all your classes?

“The ‘story’ I tell in the first class every year about how everyone’s string, their DNA, goes back 3.5 billion years in a continuous unbroken line from the first kinds of life on our planet.  It comes from a realization that came to me just ten or so years ago.  It was a kind of biological epiphany that speaks to the respect every life deserves and how we are all united, all our strings (humans, plants, fish, bacteria, all life) finally come together in one single strand if you go back to the beginning. What makes it my favorite is that it might be the most important ‘story’ I share with my students.”

You have won several awards during your time here. What have they been?

“I have won Best High School Teacher twice in the ‘Baltimore Style Magazine.’ I was awarded the Lead, Learn, Proclaim award from the National Catholic Education Association in 2018. I was named a Teacher of Merit by ‘Intel Science Talent Search’ in 2007. I was recognized by the Philip Merill Professional Scholars Program at the University of Maryland as a Teacher Mentor in 2011. I was named an Honorary Class Member for classes 2007 and 2012. Finally, I was invited to speak at Ring Liturgy for classes 2007 and 2024. Those last two are the most precious to me.”

Do you have a favorite tradition that you will miss?

“I am deeply in love with Gym Meet.  It teaches some world-transforming-life skills like collaboration, creativity, responsibility, ability to compromise, teamwork, trouble shooting, and winning and losing with grace.”

What is your favorite class to teach?

“I love teaching Freshman Biology and AP Biology and have done both for more than a dozen years.  When I made the transition to part-time, I asked to teach freshman biology because I thought my greatest contribution would be getting the 9th graders off to a good start in science.”

Do you prefer animal or plant cells?

“I am an animal so I have to be partial to animal cells but I have the greatest respect for plant cells–imagine a cell that makes its own food.  It is the greenest, several meanings here, possible packet of life.”

As a freshman who had you, did you have a favorite experiment from any of your classes?

“Like my children, I like them all for different reasons.  The evolution experiment with the red, white and newsprint squares is one I like a lot because it so perfectly captures the mechanism of natural selection.  I think that simple lab turns on many mental lightbulbs about how amazing, how simple, how divine, the process of change over time actually is.  My favorite AP Bio lab is the transformation of ordinary bacteria into ones that glow in UV light.  That is profound in that even at the high school level we have the ability to genetically alter a living organism.”

What made you choose to teach?

“I was a pre-med major in college and had a difficult freshman year academically.  Those low grades kept me out of med school.  I thought I would teach for a year and reapply but after one-month teaching, I knew the Holy Spirit put me where I belonged.  What I thought was a loss turned out to be a win for me.”

Where was your favorite place to teach?

“I have actually taught in six Catholic High Schools:  Mt. St. Joe, John Carroll, Archbishop Spalding, St. John’s Prep, Towson Catholic, and NDP.  NDP is my absolute favorite and I stayed here two and a half times longer than any other school because I love working with the girls in my class. You make this an awesome place to work.”

What are you looking forward to now?

“My wife and I are planning on spending more time with our two (so far) grandchildren: Maggie (6) and Carly (3.5).  We also hope to travel and, for the first time ever, travel when school is in session.  Beyond that my plans are somewhat fluid–I hope to do some volunteering and will spend time helping my dad as he approaches his 100th birthday.”

What do you want your students to remember?

“I want them to remember the rocks they received on Student Appreciation Day–how each rock is unique and beautiful… just like them.”

If there was a movie about your life, who do you think would play you?

“Tom Hanks.”

Many of us have stories about Mr. Peri and how he has impacted our lives in one way or another. I interviewed Claire M. ‘23, Maggie M. ‘26, and Chloe M. ‘23.

“I knew Mr. Peri was going to have an immense impact on my time here at NDP when I first walked into his biology class freshman year. Mr. Peri shares his passion, energy, and kindness to everyone he teaches in the classroom and everyone he passes in the hallway. He has inspired me to engage, explore, and take risks inside and outside of the classroom. Mr. Peri has also taught me to have confidence in myself and to persevere. Mr. Peri will be greatly missed by everyone in the NDP community, but I wish him the best retirement!” (Claire M. ‘23)

“I love Mr. Peri because he makes his class fun, engaging, and I have learned a lot from him.” (Maggie M. ‘26)

“Mr. Peri has been a large proponent in my life and has largely impacted it in many different ways. He inspired my love for science through his cheerful disposition, creative ways of teaching, and love for biology. Mr. Peri has been a large support system for myself and many of my peers and has prompted us to reach our fullest potentials as students and as people overall. The many amazing qualities he shares with his students, teachers, and faculty have been a blessing to the NDP community. Mr. Peri will be greatly missed next year here at NDP, but I wish him the best in all his future endeavors!” (Chloe M. ‘23)

Thank you, Mr. Peri, for allowing me to interview you. On behalf of all the girls, the faculty, staff, and the rest of the community here on Hampton Lane, I just want to say that we will miss you. You have impacted us all in a deep way and it will not be the same here without you. While we will miss you, we wish you well on your next adventures with your family and friends. Thank you for everything you have done for each and every one of us. We will miss you, Mr. Peri!