Arkansas to Los Angeles and Then Back Again

As a beginning teacher back at the dawn of the Internet era (circa 1996) I had my students at Berendo Middle School in Los Angeles, California email students in Mrs. Gray’s English Class at Pinkston Middle School in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Not a terribly imaginative assignment, but for the time it was very cutting edge. I think I had had an email address for only a month or two when I thought this “keypals” assignment up. My students loved writing to students on the other side of the continent, and the senseless shooting of nearby Los Angeles teacher Alfredo Perez gave the communication drama.

I had a rough stay in the rough neighborhood where Berendo Middle School is found, but I remember clearly this class of special sixth graders all these years later. They wrote me this “one last thing.”

Career-wise, it was a start. I did my best. But I needed to get out of low-income urban schools if I really wanted to be able to stretch my wings as a teacher. I eventually did.

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