This summer, All Things Considered is exploring what it means to be a man in America today. In some ways, the picture for men has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. More women than men are going to college, and the economy is moving away from jobs that traditionally favored men, like manufacturing and mining. Attitudes have also changed on the social front, with young men having more egalitarian attitudes toward women and expectations of being involved fathers.

 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 with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.


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.