Advanced Economics teacher Chris Perkins’ schedule can sometimes feel like a marathon, but he'll tell you he takes it all in stride.
Perkins, a former Wall Street equities trader turned boarding school teacher recently completed the Vermont 50, a grueling 50-mile race set along the rolling terrain near Mount Ascutney in his home state of Vermont. He trained for the race this fall while juggling his responsibilities at Berkshire, which this school year includes serving as Third Form (ninth grade) Dean.
"It's been great getting to know such a large group of students so early in their careers at Berkshire,” Perkins says about his new role.
In addition to serving as a mentor to Berkshire’s youngest scholars, Perkins is an advisor to five students and dorm head in de Windt. This winter, he’ll lead the boys varsity squash team and follow up in the spring as the head coach of the varsity boys lacrosse team, two sports he played at Connecticut College ('92) along with ice hockey.
Of course, Perkins also finds time to attend games and practices for his own children—Trevor, Georgia, and Rory—who are active in youth hockey, lacrosse, and soccer. His wife, Elizabeth, a former college athlete herself and an avid paddle tennis player, is Berkshire's events coordinator and head coach of the junior varsity field hockey team.
After spending 20 years working in the financial sector, Perkins is well-suited for another one of his roles at Berkshire—leading the Sabin Entrepreneurial Prize, a contest that tasks students with generating a business to contribute to living in a more sustainable community.
“I'm always impressed with the students' level of creativity, persistence, and problem solving,” says Perkins, who gave the award last year to three students who devised a plan to re-use the energy generated from spin classes.
Before launching into projects in late winter, students spend a lot of time talking about the 2008 financial crisis, according to Perkins. It's a topic he's able to speak to with experience. In addition, he regularly invites guest speakers who work in the financial services industry to his classes and accompanies his students on field trips to places like New York City's Financial District and the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale.
And while he’s discovered many benefits in the transition from trader to teacher, Perkins still has a penchant for numbers and technology. During September’s race he wore a Garmin GPS watch that captured enough data to make a mathematician blush. Two of the more impressive calculations the device recorded were an 8,200-foot change in elevation in the race course and his final race time of 10 hours and 46 minutes and 54 seconds.
Immediately after the race, Perkins questioned whether long-distance competitive running was worth the strain on his body. But after taking a short breather, he now admits he’s not ready to rule out competing in the 100-mile race next summer.
It’s an approach that has suited him well at Berkshire.
“Berkshire is a place that constantly evolves and allows you to get better. I’ve really enjoyed it,” he says.