First Teaching Assignment: Page 2 of 3

Finally, she said, “Mr. Owen will see you now. I took several deep breaths and walked into his office hoping that my nervousness would not show. We exchanged pleasant, “Good afternoons.” My first impression was that Mr. Owen appeared to be as nervous as I was since he fidgeted a good deal. “What is your favorite subject to teach?” he began. “My favorite subject is reading, but what I love most is teaching children how to think.”

“Tell me about that,” he directed. “Well, Mr. Owen, I learned that if you teach children to think, you have them curious enough to want to learn most everything.”

We sat and talked for what I thought was a long time. He had me fill in an application and told me I would be called. That’s when I changed the direction of the interview.


“I hear you finished Jefferson High School, so did I. I’m glad that we have something in common. I’ve read that Pasadena has an excellent system and that you have done an admirable job handling integration in your district and I certainly would love to be working for a system like that.”

He cleared his throat, but said nothing. I continued. “It’s wonderful to see that a Jeff High student has risen to such a lofty position. I expect to go places myself, someday.” “Mrs. Coleman,” he spoke. When you complete the application, leave it with my secretary. It’s been a pleasant interview, we’ll look at all of our applications and after we’ve made a decision, we will notify you.”

I said thank you and started for the door. When I reached the door, I made a “U” turn. Mr. Owens, I said, I am aware of the practice of some “secretaries” who file the applications of Negroes (as we were called then) in trash cans. Since we both are graduates of Jefferson High School—by the way—what year did you graduate? And can you assure me that will not happen to my application?


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