First Bell

Eric Reed as a young first lieutenant with his wife Julia at a military officers function in 1989 at an Army base in Garlsted, Germany. They went to Istrouma High School together.
Courtesy of Eric Reed

The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email amy@wrkf.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.

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Eric Reed was the first black quarterback at his elementary, middle, and high school when the Baton Rouge public schools were being integrated.

Epithets were used against him more than once.

Reed’s junior year at predominantly white Istrouma High School, 1974, was a turning point. The night after a race riot at the school, the football team played the last game of the regular season against all-black McKinley.

“Anytime Istrouma played McKinley, I happened to be the target of a lot of trash talk, because I’m the one who didn’t go to McKinley or Capitol, I chose to go to Istrouma, so I was -- the term they used back then -- the ‘oreo’, you know, I sold out.”

Both teams needed the win to get to the playoffs, but Reed says he didn’t have the usual fire in his belly. Istrouma lost 7 to 6.


First Bell: Twin Sisters, Separate Schools

Apr 14, 2014

 

The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email amy@wrkf.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.

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Judging from the way that the fraternal twin sisters laugh and finish each other’s sentences, you might think Megan and Kendall Smith had never left each other’s side. 

But, as Kendall told fellow LSU student Morgan Louviere, they started going to separate schools — and leading separate lives — in the third grade. 

Megan got into a private school and Kendall didn’t. 

Megan says they didn’t really get different “educations” as a result, but getting their education “differently” did make them who they are. 

 The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email amy@wrkf.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.

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Parrish went to Istrouma High School in Baton Rouge during the mid ‘70s.

He was a jock with a lot of anger, caught up in the racial violence of the time.

And then he walked into Fred Shirley’s English class

Shirley was the teacher who would introduce Parrish to counter-cultural books like the Great Gatsby and Slaughter House Five.

And he showed Parrish there was a different way to be a man. 

 


Beverly Ortego, an interventionist at Hosanna Christian Academy, with a reading student.
Sue Lincoln

The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email amy@wrkf.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.

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LaToya Johnson is the mother of three boys.

Early on, in daycare and preschool, Johnson's older two learned their ABCs and how to write.

"So by the time I got to my youngest and he got to pre-k and he wasn’t able to recognize his alphabet, I was like, ok, something was wrong." 

That turned out to be the start of a journey that ultimately led Johnson to enroll her son Micah in a private school — Hosanna Christian Academy in Baton Rouge — through the state voucher program.
 


The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email amy@wrkf.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.

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Vasser was not a good student in 2005.

When Hurricane Katrina forced him to move out of New Orleans and transfer to Catholic High in Baton Rouge, he had to turn it around.


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