Charlie G. Perry
Some people view Charlie Perry as a teacher, counselor, or mentor. Others might see him as soldier, father figure, or as a steadfast volunteer. Everyone who knows Perry, though, also regards him as a leader.
The list of official leadership positions held by Perry is long. In addition to leading in the classroom as a teacher, Perry was president of the La Porte Civic Club for 27 years, and has served as chairman of La Porte’s Juneteenth Parades and celebrations. As a U.S. Army veteran himself, Perry put his expertise to work as the director of veterans affairs with the San Jacinto College District; he also served La Porte ISD for 18 years as a member of its Board of Trustees.
Not only was he the first African-American administrator at San Jacinto College, Perry’s election to La Porte ISD’s Board of Trustees also broke racial barriers.
Perry is a deacon at Zion Hill Praise Center, a member of the La Porte Masonic Lodge, and a board member of Twilight Cemetery. In addition to serving his community in many other volunteer roles, Perry has always found the time to mentor young people. His willingness to provide such loving wisdom has earned him the nickname of Paw-Paw throughout the area.
With all that Charlie Perry has accomplished, it should come as no surprise that he is also a Licensed Professional Counselor. It should also come as no wonder that many people – young and old – consider Perry as a true hero.
When Sonja Angelo joined the La Porte High School faculty in 1967, she had no idea that what she did in the theater would have an impact on generations of students to come. In fact, she promised her principal early on that musicals were not in her plans.
Yet, for more than 50 years, as she poured her heart and soul into the La Porte High School musicals, she did just that—inspired thousands of students to accomplish what they thought was impossible, bringing out the best in each of them as they discovered their talents. Along the way, she made sure that the spotlight was on “her kids.”
Angelo was a sophomore at Texas City High School when she played the lead in the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Though she was successful in her role as Annie, when the curtains lowered, she promptly vowed never to be in the spotlight again.
“At that point, I knew there was something different about me,” she said. “I didn’t like being the center of attention; I liked being behind the scenes. I liked seeing other people accomplish things, and I liked helping them accomplish things.”
“Mrs. A,” as her students know her, officially retired from La Porte ISD in 1996, but she continues to be a driving force behind the La Porte High School theater program. Still, she is always quick to downplay her part – giving all the credit to the students.
If there is a single underlying theme in Britton Phillips’ distinguished 35 years as a La Porte ISD educator, it is humility. Rarely, if ever, does he take credit for being a top-notch teacher, coach and principal. Instead, he readily offers applause for all of those men and women who worked alongside him.
Phillips arrived in La Porte ISD in 1961, the same year Hurricane Carla ravaged the Texas Coast and caused a one-week delay to the start of school. It was only his second year teaching, and he never looked back.
He coached and taught several years at La Porte Junior High School before being named assistant principal there. In 1973, Phillips became principal of Baker Junior High School, where he served for 19 years. He wrapped up his career in 1995, after serving as La Porte Junior High principal for three years.
A committed lifelong learner himself, Phillips graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown. After attending nearby Lee College, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas and his master’s degree at Sam Houston State University.
La Porte ISD experienced much change during Phillips’ 35 full-time years – and 15 years as a substitute. Two things, though, remained constant: his tireless commitment to excellence for his students and staff, and his nature of refusing accolades, instead directing them to everyone around him.
During her almost 50 years in La Porte ISD, educator Martha Love was the heart of the district. And interestingly, when she and her husband Bill arrived in La Porte for his new job, she was adamant that she wouldn’t live here.
Love joined the La Porte ISD family in 1967 as an elementary school teacher; she retired in 1997 as principal of Bayshore Elementary School. But, just as she had years earlier when she decided to remain in La Porte, Martha changed her retirement plans and became a substitute in the district for another 16 years.
Those who knew Martha – and most people did – have heard the many humorous and heartwarming stories from in and out of her classroom. One story she told involved a classroom field trip during which her students were afraid they would fall off the freeway while en route. Love also fondly recalled the time one of her young students claimed to have been bitten by a leprechaun during a St. Patrick’s Day outing.
She was more than a classroom teacher who wanted to make learning fun though. Much more. Love, in her support of a neighborhood center for children in 2005, said that she would often listen to the police scanner to make sure that her students made it home and were safe.
Martha Love’s name truly said it all…
Honorees are nominated at-large and recommended to the La Porte ISD Board of Trustees by a committee of community and district volunteers. Distinguished alumni and citizens have typically excelled professionally and served the communities in which they live.