Y’all. I’ve been searching for my 8th Grade Math Teacher, Miss Greenwood for 20+ years! I mean actively searching. We were her first class out of college, and I always wondered what became of her. I wanted to show her how I turned out and some of my classmates who also still talk about how dope she was.
One night, about two weeks ago, after an hour of searching the deep web, I found her and an email I wasn’t sure worked. I wrote her anyway:
Dr. Maisha (Greenwood) Gillins –
A few years ago, someone told me, “you never forget those who teach you.” Surely they meant those who teach and care to see you retain the information. 24 years ago in Charlottesville, you were my math teacher, and although I absolutely hated math by this time, I loved your class because you were one of those teachers who seemed invested in what we became when we were out of those doors.
Surely you’ve taught a million children by now, but if you’re stretching your brain to remember who I am, I should let you know i was talkative, funny, loud, but respectful. I was a decent math student, but better storyteller. So much so, I’m now a documentary filmmaker and writer out in the world, living between South Africa and Los Angeles, currently creating original content. I graduated with a few degrees from a couple of HBCU’s and honestly, before sitting in your room and listening to your Virginia State University stories, the only mentions of HBCU’s were on A Different World. Thank you for that.
I never forgot you. Neither has some of my classmates and still-friends, like Shawn Wright and Tiffany Barbour. If you remember them, Shawn Wright is a minister now in Charlottesville and Tiffany Barbour is a teacher in PG County. Funny enough, each time we’re together and remembering old times, we talk about Buford days and you always come up. We talk about how we didn’t know how important it was for Black students in Charlottesville to have a Black teacher who cared until we had just that. And we look around the internet for you to say thank you although “thank you” isn’t enough, but we were never able to find you because all we had was your maiden name. Somehow, I typed it into google tonight as we have in the past, and BAM! you’re everywhere.
I spent the last hour going through the many articles and write ups about you, partly making sure this message is going to the right person, and partly because I’m just so happy others know how important you are in this field.
I know you were doing your job, but if there’s ever a way to pay you back, certainly let me know.
With Enormous Appreciation,
Darnell Lamont Walker
A few days passed and I didn’t hear from her, but I got a call from Tiffany: “Darnell, a teacher colleague of mine is at a conference and just called me to tell me that a letter you wrote with my name in it to our old teacher was read aloud on stage in front of a thousand or so teachers.”
A few minutes later, an email came in.
Long story short:
YOU AMAZING TEACHERS OUT THERE – KEEP DOING YOUR THING! THE KIDS SEE YOU!