The student voice of Perry High School

The Precedent

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Bob Harpur retires after 2016-2017 school year

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Teaching allows me to have a lasting influence on hundreds of young people who will grow up to be thinking adults who have learned to look at themselves and others through the veil of history.”

— Bob Harpur

For many freshmen, Bob Harpur is the first history teacher with whom they interact on campus. An AP World History and AP Human Geography teacher, Harpur’s time at Perry is only one period of a teaching career spanning nearly three decades. Upon meeting Harpur, it is no question why his teaching impacts his students long after their time at Perry, and why he is a favorite amongst the faculty.

“What Mr. Harpur brings to the history department is a unique perspective because he has lived outside of the United States,” history teacher Jason Myers said. “You can’t recreate that.”

Teaching high school history classes was never his plan, as he took a different path in his college years.

“I came out of college with a [bachelor’s] degree in history, however my minor was in economics which led me to work in business at first,” Harpur said. “Teaching allows me to have a lasting influence on hundreds of young people who will grow up to be thinking adults who have learned to look at themselves and others through the veil of history.”

Perhaps Harpur’s love of history came from his many adventures living amongst different people and experiencing new continents and cultures. Harpur has lived in Africa, Europe and North America, and his experiences are the driving force behind his passion for cultural diversity.

“I have seen, heard, and lived a lot of places that have added to my love of places and history,” Harpur said. “It opened my eyes, ears, and thoughts about others and how it takes everyone working together to create a vibrant and successful earth.”

For Harpur, history lends itself to opening students to larger ideas, giving them the opportunity to change the future.

“If we don’t concern ourselves with each other and utilize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses, we will fail as a human species,” Harpur said.

For students, Harpur’s class offers a look into the past while incorporating current events around the globe.

“I like when Mr. Harpur talks about what is happening in the world today and how he ties it back into the lesson,” sophomore Taylor Armstrong said. “He likes to tell personal stories and is very good at making sure that we understand the material.”

Although bittersweet as one chapter ends, Harpur plans on continuing his love of teaching others in retirement.

“I think I will always be teaching others, because when I do, I learn so much about other people, places, and events that I can add to my knowledge,” Harpur said. “Maybe I can be a tour guide for trips around the world, or a volunteer guide at the Phoenix Zoo or the Desert Botanical Gardens.”

Harpur’s love of teaching can be summed up by his passion for helping others, whether it be in emphasizing the importance of the past, or watching his students find their footing in the vast world of history.

“You know that ‘light-bulb’ moment when [students] get it and learning becomes special to them for the sake of learning and not because they have to?” Harpur said. “Those have been my favorite memories.”

As for the history department, there is no way to fill the absence of a teacher whose passion is the driving force behind his success as an educator.
“We’re going to miss an experienced teacher who is dedicated to bringing those life lessons into the classroom,” Myers said. “That’s rare, so that’s definitely going to be missed.”

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The student voice of Perry High School
Bob Harpur retires after 2016-2017 school year