A Riverbank native, former Riverbank Police officer and current Spanish teacher at Riverbank High School will be cleaning out his desk, tidying up his classroom and turning out the lights for the last time this week.
Peter Perkins is retiring after 22 years in front of students.
Perkins joined the RHS staff in fall of 1999, but it was not his first career in Riverbank.
Growing up here, he attended local schools, including RHS beginning in 1970, graduating in June of 1974.
From 1982 to 1995, Perkins worked as a member of the Riverbank Police Department, as the only Community Service Officer the RPD ever had. From 1995 to 1998, he was among those officers who were transitioned into the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department as it took over, becoming Riverbank Police Services, under contract with the city.
Perkins said that changeover cost him a significant loss in pay, so he went back to school to finish his Bachelor’s Degree, which led to the career change to teaching.
He did not grow up speaking Spanish, he noted.
“As a 19 year-old I chose to serve in Argentina as a missionary for two years, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he explained. “Working, saving the money to be able to live in South America, on my own, learning a new language and way of life was perhaps the most challenging experience of my life.”
Perkins added that having a second language was beneficial in many ways.
“Learning Spanish has served me well throughout my life, my time in law enforcement, as a teacher and in my personal life. Learning of another culture and way of life has given me a broader perspective in helping to see the world through the eyes of others,” said Perkins.
When asked about his favorite memory as a teacher, he points to one incident.
“I do remember one year when the high school quarterback said in the yearbook his senior year that Spanish was his favorite class,” Perkins said. “Also, to this day, in Spanish 2 class, over the course of several weeks, I show about two hours of video (3-5 minutes at a time) of a student who did a study abroad as an exchange student. It is very interesting for students to see another part of the world through the lens of a student from RHS.”
From fall of 2010 through fall of 2017, Perkins also served as Yearbook Advisor at Riverbank High.
“It was the most demanding, and in many was the most rewarding, teaching assignment of my career. We were recording the history of Riverbank High School, which I took very seriously,” he said. “As I told my students, no one else in the world is recording the history of our school, so it is up to us to do our best to get it right.”
As for plans for the future, post-retirement, Perkins is keeping them under wraps, so far.