Vivienne

Tell us about your experience with childhood education. 

I’m Vivienne Bruce Keller (?), better known as ‘Vicky’. I think mine was bad because there seemed to be cultural misunderstanding with teachers. I had multicultural parents. My grandparents were as well but they weren’t totally involved with my education.
I was not required to do as well as the blonde girl with blue eyes next to me. That was frustrating because my attitude was, “I am good!” and that’s what I learned at home. I was good. I could do anything I wanted.
So there was no correlation with the way school value was and my family value.

By seventh grade, this was during Black Power era, I was told by a young lady, another peer, that to be cool you had to have wine and smoke weed, and do cigarettes, and that kind of thing. And if you weren’t, you weren’t cool. So I found an empty wine bottle and I put it in my locker and thought I’d be cool. The girl I had to share the locker with, she told that I had it in there. She didn’t want to get in trouble. So I went into the bathroom and I said, “She snitched on me! She told them I had a wine bottle!”. And I didn’t let anyone know there was nothing in the wine bottle, because I’m still trying to be cool.

I was kicked out of all Seattle public schools for “inciting a riot”. I was in seventh grade, first year of junior high. I did not return back to public school until tenth grade. I went to an alternative school. All the kids, except me, had been in trouble of some sort. That was one of the qualifications but I was there anyway. I was one of the youngest. If I didn’t want to do math, all I had to do was say I didn’t want to do it. Science? I don’t want to do it. So I turned out to be really awesome in History and Language Arts because that’s what I like.

As an adult, I know I got cheated. When I hit college, I was sure I got cheated! Because I was doing high school in college. So that made a difference for Black children back then.

How do you want to help cultivate the genius of black children?

First of all, continue educating the community about what really happens in the school and make sure that they feel welcome to come in the school. No closed door policies. Open doors. Try to get parents to fill envelopes, or just be there on somebody’s birthday when you’re celebrating. Make sure you’re around. Make sure that people know there is an active community. Not just parents, but a community that’s watching.

What is your personal learning style?

My personal learning style is probably hands-on and some visual. I worked in my dad’s restaurant when we were growing up so I needed to learn how to cook certain things at some point. He wanted to get rid of the cook that he was paying and I was the oldest daughter and I had five sisters so we could actually run this ourselves. But I needed to be precise about what I cooked. It wasn’t like home where I could make a mistake. So that’s when I started realizing that it worked better for me if I heard it verbally. If I did it and made that one mistake in the restaurant with my dad or my mom, and then next time I would get it right. Number 1, I made a mistake and I heard you verbally tell me how to achieve it.