Go anywhere in Park City with Linda Perkins, and you’re going to be flocked by adorable little children yelling, “Miss Linda! Miss Linda!” as they run in for full-body squeezes. “I’ll never get tired of the hugs,” Perkins says, with her signature bright white smile. After 20 years, Park City Cooperative Preschool’s (PCCP) iconic teacher is retiring. Ironically, the New England native never planned on being a teacher, thinking she’d pursue a law degree after her undergraduate (human development) and master’s (American studies) degrees. “My mom was a teacher. She told me early on it was a great career for a woman, so of course I was rebellious and said I’m never doing that,” Perkins laughs. She ski bummed in Colorado, raised her young family in Vermont, and taught preschool skiing and summer camp. The family moved to Park City in 1997. Perkins had a friend on the PCCP board who begged her to apply for lead teacher. She started in 2000. “Teaching preschool was perfect for my background because you need to know a little bit about a lot of things, and you don’t have to be an expert at anything,” she laughs.
A typical day for 20 years included circle time (sitting “crisscross applesauce”), singing, dancing to “get the wiggles out,” “sneezing” glitter into her hands to show the kids how germs spread, field trips riding the bus to the fire station or recycling center (where Perkins volunteered for seven years), and her favorite activity—sledding on library hill and “holding your hands up and screaming as you slide down.”
“The most important thing to teach is how to get along with others and how to be part of a community.”
“Preschool is a really important stage in a child’s life, and I feel really lucky to be part of it.… The most important thing to teach is how to get along with others and how to be part of a community. I feel like I’m helping them get off on the right foot and be good future citizens of the world. Plus, they’re so funny.” When one student asked Perkins if she had a job, “I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ And he said, ‘Well, where do you work?’ It just tickled me that he didn’t realize that being his teacher was my job. He thought I just came in every day to play with him.”
Perkins loves keeping in touch with the co-op parents and former students (who now tower over their petite teacher). “Five years ago my first class of three-year-olds graduated from high school. I found old photographs of all of them and made a collage to congratulate them. Now it’s a tradition. I always attend graduation to cheer my kids on,” she says.
“It’s been a 20-year tenure that’s given me the opportunity to make amazing friends and forge relationships in the community. I cherish that. And I’m always available for hugs.”