New Isle of Wight school superintendent on the job

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SMITHFIELD—The move from Houston to Isle of Wight County was a welcome change for Katrise Perera, the new superintendent of the county’s schools, a self-proclaimed country girl at heart.

New Isle of Wight County Superintendent Katrise Perer inside her new office in Smithfield. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

“My dad is a horseman. He raises horses,” Perera said. “I’d rather clean a stall than do anything else. It’s kind of therapeutic.”

She replaces Dr. Michael McPherson, who retired. Perera will be paid $130,000 annually under a two-year contract.

In Texas, Perera served as a school improvement officer and led nine principals in curriculum, strategic planning and professional development for the Houston Independent School District.

“I spent nearly 20 years in Virginia before I moved to Texas,” Perera told reporters Tuesday. “I thought I wanted to go home to Texas, but I realized Virginia is my home.”

She was very strategic in applying for jobs in Virginia because she wanted to do what was best for her twin, 14-year-old daughters.

“I grew up in a small town, and I always thought that I wanted to be a smaller district,” Perera said.

She sees local school funding as a concern for the district, but added that it is not insurmountable.

“I see money as a challenge, but not a challenge that will keep us from succeeding,” Perera said. “Caring about students or connecting with students doesn’t cost any money. We have kids who can succeed in our area if they know we care about them. If there is a connection.”

She will work with the school board on developing a communication plan.

“That’s critical,” Perera said. “We will be working together to build goals and a focus for the district.”

She added that those goals are “under construction.”

Perera said the biggest change between Isle of Wight County and Houston is the slower pace, which she welcomes.

“I think Isle of Wight is a well-kept secret as far as the schools go,” Perera said. “I want to see the school system grow.”