Having graduated from a small, private, and predominantly white college in 1977, I thought I was highly educated. After all, I had graduated magna cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa had taught me the secret handshake. I began teaching, confident in my knowledge. For the first few years of my thirty-five-year career, I taught higher level English courses composed mostly of white students. Even though there was a great diversity in my high school, I never questioned why there were so very few black students in my class. Where were they? Then my schedule changed, and I crossed the hall to teach African American Literature. My new students were all black. I am all white. My true education began with those steps across a hall.
Lori Wojtowicz has spent most of her life in classrooms. She taught English for thirty- five years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Now in retirement, she works as an educational consultant with teachers across the country. She is still waging war against the achievement gap that evidences the inequities plaguing our country. She says the highest accolade of her career came from a student who wrote, You took our minds and handed them to us, and made us think for ourselves. You helped us use the voices wed always had but were too afraid to use. She knows the student was mistaken. It was the students who helped her find her own mind and allowed her a voice. It is because of them that she writes. Outside the classroom, she enjoys her family, her newest role as grandmother, her dogs, and riding her horse through the woods.