Zora Rashkis reaches out to black student
Davis remembers Zora Rashkis, a white teacher at Northside Elementary School who showed a special interest in black students. He describes a strategy she used to ensure students came to her class on time.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Nate Davis, February 6, 2001. Interview K-0538. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
RG: You mentioned one teacher who you thought was prejudiced. Were, did you have any positive experiences with the white teachers?
ND: Yeah, uh-huh, we sure did.
RG: Any who stood out?
ND: Miss Zora Rashkis.
RG: Zora Rashkis.
RG: What was it about Zora that, um,
ND: She cared about everybody. She cared about everybody, she wanted to make sure that everybody succeeded. We had this black girl that was in my class, and um, she was always late, two or three minutes, whatever, five minutes. And Miss Rashkis kept telling her, you know, you need to get to class on time, and she said I can’t do it, I can’t do it. And she explained to her why she could not get there on time. And one day Miss Rashkis said, well, that’s it, you have to be in class on time. The very next day she was in class on time. Miss Rashkis told her, okay, I understand why you were being late, now we can deal with that, we can work with that, you can be late. But I want you to try to get here on time. But I just wanted to show you that you could get here on time. You know.
RG: One of the things that I heard from the other people I interviewed was that the teachers at Lincoln and Northside both taught values, and I’m wondering whether you felt that Zora Rashkis taught values.
ND: She did, she did.
RG: Can you explain that further?
ND: Well she taught you, um, she made you feel a part of everybody. She wanted you to understand and to know that you could be just as important as the next person regardless of whether you’re white or black. She opened her home up to all the students in her class, and she wanted you to know that you could succeed, you could do things. Just like the young lady that kept coming to class late, you know, she wanted her to prove to herself that she could be on time.
RG: Did she also invite parents into her home?
ND: I think Miss Rashkis probably invited everybody into her home.
RG: Is that something that went on when you were at Northside, that the teachers visited your home?
ND: Oh yeah, uh-huh.
RG: So basically she was like your other teachers from Northside in a way.
ND: In a way, yeah. Yeah, uh-huh.