Council members relived their school days at education hearings

Curtis Jones Jr. says he and his classmates were bullied by a student he referred to as “Ray-Ray.” Jessica Griffin / Staff Photographer
Curtis Jones Jr. says he and his classmates were bullied by a student he referred to as “Ray-Ray.” Jessica Griffin / Staff Photographer
Posted: May 23, 2012

BACK IN HIS Overbrook High School days, City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. lived in fear of a student who was two years older, tough as nails and always ready to fight — a student he renamed “Ray-Ray” during an anecdote he has shared at recent Council hearings.

This month, when school district officials came before City Council to plead their budget case, Jones and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson couldn’t resist reliving their own public-school experiences.

Their stories ranged from the terrifying tales of Ray-Ray to teachers who kept members on the right path.

“He was the head of all things bad and we were going to follow him to the hellfires if he led us, and it was time for him to go,” Jones said during a Council hearing. School officials eventually dispatched the young delinquent.

“Ray-Ray, you will no longer terrorize this class, you’re on the bus to [a disciplinary school],”Jones said.

“That was the best day of our lives, and education began that day for us, because we felt that it was no longer cool to be the most disruptive kids and that we could calm down and actually open our minds up.”

Johnson admitted that he was at times the “Ray-Ray” in his class, but school officials kept him on the right track.

There was Goldie Williams, a vice principal at G.W. Childs Elementary School who would make visits to Johnson’s grandmother’s South Philly home to talk about his behavior.

And Ms. Hairston, a non-teacher’s assistant at Barrett Junior High who held him accountable in and out of school, “because I was a little Ray-Ray, you know,” Johnson said, adding that he sometimes stood up to bullies on others’ behalf. “At times I liked to have fun in class; I always went to class, but sometimes I gave this teacher or that teacher a hard time.”

Hairston “was somebody who was on top of me, making sure I did what I needed to do …,” Johnson said. “I always put my books first, but she was someone who held me accountable from the neighborhood.”

Contact Jan Ransom at 215-854-5218 or ransomj@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jan_Ransom. Read her blog, “PhillyClout” at phillyclout.com.

|
|
|
|
|