Focusing on inclusion on and off the court

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 11:31 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Before heading down to the gym to coach the Midland Valley Varsity Boys Basketball team, Henri Perry works as an aid for one of the students with special needs classes in the high school.

Head Coach Henri Perry said, “It made me a better person, first of all. So, me as a person will help me for whatever other title I take on. Mentor, coach, special aid, whatever title. Me being here in this class helped me be a better person.”

The energy he brings to class every day and the willingness he shows to help his students in any way he can, has had a positive impact on his students and his colleagues.

“Our main thing is building a word of inclusion. A lot of times they want to just single these guys out, “x” them out with a lot of things, but we want to include them. Everything single thing we do here, we include those guys,” said Coach Perry.

Students with Special Needs Teacher Abigail Williamson said, “I’ve known Coach Perry for over 20-years, I’ve grown up with Coach Perry. So, him working in my class, it’s really a different side that I get to see of him.”

Assistant Principal James Dziczkowski said, “He’s (Henri Perry) always got a smile on his face, he’s energetic, he’s smiling all the time, and those students see that, and they love him for it, and I think that plays a great part when he’s coaching. His players see that too and that’s why they play hard for him and want to win for him.”

One of the goals of Ms. Williamson’s class is to teach skills that her students can use when they become adults. In an effort to introduce her students to the world of business, her class started selling cookies around school, to help raise money for class supplies and for future field trips.

Coach Perry said, “They actually came up with the name, ‘Mustang Munchies.’”

Williamson said, “The kids are selling, the kids are advertising, the kids are collecting money, learning money skills, they’re learning job skills, and social skills, everything.”

This is year two for Coach Perry leading the Mustangs. Since taking over Midland Valley’s Basketball program is heading back to the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Coach Perry said, “We have 14 kids and they have 14 different personalities. So I’ve got to deal with each different personality and try to see what makes them tick. What makes them learn, what makes them mad, all of that great stuff. So I can know a better way to serve them. So that just translates over to our basketball team.”

With Head Coach Henri Perry leading the way, the Midland Valley Mustangs will be a two seed in the playoffs. They will host their first round matchup against Berea, next Wednesday night.