Educator wins city’s human rights award

A longtime local educator who has assisted students in need will be recognized during this year’s Columbus Human Rights Commission annual dinner.

Larry Perkinson, who serves as the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s employee and student assistance coordinator, will receive the 2017 William R. Laws Human Rights Award May 11 at The Commons for his commitment to the community and advocacy of all students.

In Perkinson’s 40 years in the field of education, he has worked with students, their families and school faculty members regarding issues of discrimination, substance abuse, homelessness, bullying, suicide and domestic violence.

Perkinson said he is humbled to be the recipient of this year’s award.

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“I have an opportunity to help people, and the path I chose was education to work with families everyday,” Perkinson said. “It’s such a tremendous thing to be able to do, to work with the community and the schools to help them.”

Perkinson said giving back is something that people should do whenever they can.

“If you have the capacity to help others, to teach, you ought to do it,” Perkinson said.

“Larry views every student as a unique human being with God-given talents,” wrote former Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix in a nomination letter. “Larry is the voice for the nearly 400 students in our community who are either homeless or between stable homes.”

The event will also feature keynote speaker Sheila Suess Kennedy, a professor of law and public policy at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI, who will talk about civic literacy.

Kennedy formerly served as executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and was a Republican candidate in 1980 for the 11th Congressional District. Kennedy is a faculty fellow with the Center for Religion and American Culture at IUPUI, and Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence for Indiana University. She is also founder of the Center for Civic Literacy at IUPUI.

In addition to the Laws award, winners of the Benjamin M. King Essay Contest and J. Irwin Miller Art Contest for students will be honored at the dinner. The theme for this year’s art and essay contests is “Advocating for Others.”

If you go

What: Columbus Human Rights Commission annual dinner

When: 6:30 p.m. May 11

Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus

Tickets: Admission to the dinner is by advance ticket purchase at $30 per person. Tickets for tables of eight people may be purchased. Ticket sales will begin April 12 and go through 5 p.m. May 5. They can be purchased at the Human Rights Commission office at City Hall, 123 Washington St., or online at columbus.in.gov/human-rights/.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com