David Perdue's legacy lives in Houston schools

October 17, 2012 

Two schools in Houston County carry his name, but David Perdue is more than a name on a building. He was a man who influenced the Houston County School System and helped develop it into the stellar program it is today.

He will be inducted in the new Warner Robins Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Perdue was born in Bonaire in 1916 and graduated from Bonaire High School, a school where he would later serve as principal.

Before becoming superintendent of education in 1961, he also served as principal of Warner Robins High School and Lindsey Elementary.

Perdue was superintendent during integration, and it was smooth and calm in Houston County compared with other sections of the country. Many credit Perdue’s leadership for this.

He also oversaw a school population boom. The number of students grew from 7,000 to 17,000 during his tenure, and he oversaw the construction of 12 new schools, a vocational training center and the stadium.

But numbers don’t tell the whole story of Perdue’s contribution to education in Houston County. He wanted the students who attended school here to have every opportunity possible. Programs that we now consider normal parts of school, such as speech, diagnostic reading and the gifted program, are possible because Perdue secured state and federal funds.

He knew that different children have different needs and increased staff for children with special needs from two to 70 and had teachers trained for a career education program that could be included across subject areas.

“He was a man that led by example,” said Joe Smith, who was principal at Warner Robins High School while Perdue was superintendent of education. “He worked hard and expected everyone around him to do the same. He stayed on top of education changes and improvements. He led the way for Houston County schools to become the pinnacle in Georgia among school systems. I have been here 40 years, and we have always enjoyed a reputation of a good system and he is a large part of that reputation.”

His innovations and care for the students, staff and parents of the Houston County School System were recognized outside of Houston County. He was elected president of the Georgia Association of School Superintendents, the highest honor the organization can bestow. Nationally, Perdue was asked to be the educational consultant from Georgia for European Schools and was invited to testify concerning education before the House Education and Labor Committee. In 1993, the Houston County school board voted to name a school after him.

He also served as the chairman of the Houston County Board of Health and was an active member of First Baptist Church of Warner Robins, where he was a deacon and taught Sunday School for many years.

The value of the school system on the growth of our community cannot be disregarded. David Perdue will be always be remembered for helping build the tradition of excellence that our school system enjoys today.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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