Author: Dr. Roberta Silfen
This is written for those unaware of the days in the early 1970's in the Deep South where desegregated schools were still segregated, and equal education was very unequal. This is an account of my experience; a white teacher, teaching in an all-black elementary school at that time. Times have changed and the black schools have caught up with the white schools, but the history of those days still needs to be told. I had never dared to relate these incidents in previous years knowing I probably would never get another job in public education again. Having now left the public schools, my courage and conviction have reappeared. This account tells the story of the wonderful children in my classroom. I, as the teacher learned much from my students who unlike children in other schools were very unique. There were no leaders, no followers, no cliques, and no isolates. Each child was an individual unto him or herself, yet they were all bound together by the group, the class, and I was one of their group. They treated me as one of them. Within these pages, you will be introduced to some of the students, teachers, the curriculum, and how well they applied what they learned to their daily experiences. They were handicapped by the educational system, but were taught by caring teachers committed to making sure they had a good education and would become successful adults.
I have been a student, teacher, counselor, and educational administrator. I was a graduate student in Cambridge, England; Hawaii, where I received my Master’s degree in Education; Alabama, receiving a Master’s in Counseling; and Texas, where I obtained Masters and Doctorate degrees in Administration and Management. I was fortunate in receiving a Fulbright Scholarship, which enabled me to study and travel for a summer in Israel. As a student living in these various places, I was concurrently employed as a teacher in these areas of the country. My husband was an officer with the U.S Air Force and we traveled extensively in Europe and Japan, which explains my varied employment and schooling sites. I love being an educator. I love children in particular. As a teacher of children, you have the opportunity to mold and guide them towards future success. Impart the knowledge they will need later in life, and give them the confidence to succeed as children and adults. I have also learned that teaching is really a teacher-learner relationship. It is a symbiotic learning experience. You are the guide, counselor, consultant, and support. You are also a learner from your students.