First black OPRF teacher started in 1967


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In our "Top 10 Stories from Black History in Oak Park" [Civil wrongs ... and rights, Feb. 23], story number 10 listed many of the African-American "firsts" in this community.

We received a call about our contention that the first black teachers at Oak Park and River Forest High School were Al Allen (who's still there), Randal Bullen and Norma Raybon, all of whom started in 1972.

Not so, said Joyce Moore, who called us as soon as the papers hit the streets. Moore, who lives in River Forest now, and is on leave from the Chicago Public Schools, broke the color barrier at OPRF five years earlier, when she joined the Science Department in 1967.

Moore, now 62, has only one complaint about her reception at the school. She said the superintendent, Dr. J. Floyd Hall, initially tried to discourage her from coming to OPRF?#34;after she signed her contract. He told her she might be more comfortable at Evanston High. Moore at the time was one summer short of her M.S. in physics at Purdue University, which she had been working on during the summers thanks to a National Science grant. She earned her B.S. from West Virginia State University, where she double-majored in math and physics.

Moore was familiar with integrating faculties. She had done so at her previous assignment, Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, N.Y. When her husband transferred to the Chicago area, she applied for the position at OPRF.

Her colleagues were welcoming, she recalled. In fact, back then, the Science Department would take turns meeting at faculty members homes, so her fellow teachers came to her South Shore apartment.

Hall, she said, was from the South, and frequently observed her classes, but she didn't let it get to her.

"I told him, 'You're welcome. You might learn something.'"

Certification was also an issue. Illinois didn't have a reciprocal arrangement with New York or South Carolina, where Moore was certified to teach, so she had to take education classes at Concordia in order to fulfill the requirements.

Her students at OPRF, she said, never gave her any problems.

She taught through the 1969-70 school year, then went on maternity leave (her son, now 34, graduated from OPRF, where he went to state with the gymnastics team). After a year off, she taught at Malcolm X College, which had just opened, then worked as a telecommunications engineer for the phone company. About 10 years ago, she was downsized, so she went back into teaching, which included a year back at OPRF, but when the school lost the first referendum in the mid-'90s, the school cut back on science labs, so she found herself out of a job again.

She taught math at Austin High School, then at Foreman, where she won an award for teaching excellence in January 2004. A month later she was attacked in her classroom and went on "assault leave."

"I wouldn't change my grades," she said.

During the time off, she suffered a small stroke, but she's better now and planning to return to Foreman in the fall.

She said she called to correct the historical record and because she's proud of breaking the barrier at OPRF.

One more correction

And we made one other OPRF-related mistake in our article:

The first black District 200 board president was Wanda Cornelius in 1987-88.

Consider the record corrected.

?#34;Ken Trainor

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