Celebrating Black History Month: Mrs. Charita Crockrom

About 20 years ago, my mother had a brilliant idea to send me to a private school as a freshman and pay to educate me, but I convinced her that I could earn money for college at Collinwood through the Scholarship in Escrow program (the real reason being I wanted to go to high school with people I’d known since I started school).  It made much more sense to earn money for college than to pay for an education now and not be able to send me to college. My finance argument worked and for the 1990-91 school year, off to Collinwood I went.

I walked into my 10th-grade honors English class at Collinwood for the first time in August 1990. Until then, I was ambivalent about English. The year before I had a teacher who was excellent at what she did, but not someone I wanted to go to for help. I eeked out a passing grade and decided that I would be a scientist because English had too many rules and my desire to just write, sans all the grammatical correctness, wouldn’t cut it in the real world.

I walked into that 10th-grade English class and met a teacher with enthusiasm for my education. Genuine enthusiasm. I thought ‘This HAS to be easier than last year. She seems so nice. Maybe I’ll give the whole writing and reading thing another shot.’ I sat in the back, scarred from my previous year’s front seat assignment, and decided to see how things played out. As the year progressed, I remembered grammatical rules, learned how to write better descriptive, informative and argumentative essays and to tell a pretty good story. Her dedication, encouraging statements on my rough drafts and that etymology book that still helps me figure out what some words mean to this day, is what kept a writer writing. When it got tough in the PRKent program, I thought about those sophomore days and got through it. When the instructors tried to throw out $20 words in graduate school, I went right back to that first floor at Collinwood and kept at it. And to the surprise of more than a few people, I’m good at what I do thanks to the encouragement of one teacher 20 years ago.

An ode to Mrs. Crockrom. Thank you for being one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. And hopefully some of my fellow Railroaders – before and after me – will read this and remember some history of their own too.

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