WARNER ROBINS -- While briefly discussing the federal government shutdown with second-graders, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was interrupted by a tiny voice.
My daddy goes to school at the Air Force, one girl said, and he doesnt have to go to school right now.
When Perdue asked if her father was enjoying that, the girl immediately shook her head. No, she told him.
It was one way Perdue explained how the branches of government work -- and how that work impacts local residents -- during his stop Thursday at Lake Joy Primary School.
Perdue, a Bonaire resident who was governor from 2003 to 2011, and his wife, Mary, wanted to share their experiences with the second-graders, who are learning about government in their social studies classes.
We believe in citizenship, and I think citizenship begins at an early age, he said after the presentation. Sometimes we think people in these offices are beyond our accessibility, and thats the myth we want to dismiss.
The Perdues explained life in the governors mansion and the responsibilities of the governor and the first lady. Sonny Perdue quizzed the children, asking them about the branches and roles of government.
Students also quizzed him. Among other things, they wanted to know what it was like leading the state of Georgia and what his favorite part of the job was.
It was a cool job. Its kind of like being the principal of Lake Joy Primary, he said. It was very, very fun. It was very hard, ... but it was very fulfilling.
And the job of government leader comes with great responsibility, he said, which is evident as federal leaders parry over a spending bill, partially shutting down the government and furloughing many Middle Georgia workers.
Its a tragedy, frankly, that weve got people who are elected that cannot come together and do the job, he told The Telegraph after the presentation.
Earlier, he explained to students that legislators must come to a consensus in order to approve bills, which help the country operate.
It frustrates me as a citizen to see that we dont have that here, he said. The United States of America is still the best nation on Earth, ... but Im just a frustrated citizen like a lot of other people.
The Perdues are just typical folks these days, they told students, living in Bonaire and enjoying their 13 grandchildren -- a number that drew gasps from the cluster of children. Some students cheered and some booed when the Perdues revealed that they attended the University of Georgia.
Their small hands flew into the air when they knew the answer to a question. As they left, some of them rushed to the former governor for a hug.
This is a great opportunity for our students to have someone who is such a great role model for our state and who also knows Houston County, Principal April Strevig said.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.