Each day, Dr. Jeff Perry, Hamblen County school superintendent, has gone to the web.
He has become the face of the Hamblen County Coronavirus Task Force that was set up almost a week and a half ago as the virus spreads across the nation and has finally entered Hamblen County.
Every day, he broadcasts on the internet with a calm and soothing presence to alert the community about any news or to answer questions.
Some have taken note.
David Purkey, former county mayor and former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, said he knows leadership. Five years ago, Purkey oversaw one of the great strategies in state history when an armed gunman shot a recruiting station in Chattanooga and then later entered a Naval Reserve Station, killing four Marines and a sailor.
Purkey said he never knew Perry until he left the state and came back home, but he recognizes the kind of traits that a good leader demonstrates.
“Having served with him on this task force, I’m blown away about his giving spirit and his ability to get things done,” Purkey said.
He said Perry’s leadership has been invaluable in this time of crisis and confusion.
“You appreciate the type of leadership that steps in and says, ‘I’ll do this,’ and that’s the type of person he is,” Purkey said.
Taking over Hamblen County as school superintendent a a little more than two years ago, it wasn’t his first rodeo in leadership. Before coming to Hamblen County, he served as superintendent of schools at two schools in Virginia and two in Colorado.
As the crisis unfolds, Perry has calmly detailed out plans for the county and schools in his videos, calling for help and volunteers from the community.
County Mayor Bill Brittain agrees with Purkey.
“I think he’s really been on the key leaders in the effort to keeping the community involved,” he said.
He said Perry has had innovative ideas about how to inform citizens and presenting ideas for implementing the plans through different stages.
For example, Perry wrote out a response plan for the school district that incorporated professional directions laid out by other agencies and emergency services. Brittain wasn’t too proud to recognize a good thing.
“Our response plan, I modeled it after his,” Brittain said.
He said he has the qualities needed to be the face of the task force.
“He is calm and he is matter of fact,” Brittain said.