Teacher and student re-unite in friendship and retirement 42 years after they first met in English class

Great State

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – These are stolen moments for retired teacher Barbara Erickson and for her former student Teresa Black.

They hardly ever get a chance to sit and soak up the winter sunshine on Barbara’s back porch.

But if they do, the ready subject always goes back to their former lives, Barbara as an English teacher and Teresa as a precocious Junior at Classen High School in 1978.

“I remember her sitting with her friends,” recalls Barbara, “and they liked to talk.”

Teresa recalls, “I didn’t know what to expect at first, but she turned out to be one of the greatest teachers.”

Barbara had a few years of teaching under her belt by the time they met.

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Barbara Erickson, top left corner, back in her teaching days.

She’d helped guide Classen through integration a few years before that.

She told us she always made a point to treat everyone equally, and to sell her subject as if her very occupation depended on it.

“You better do a good job of it,” she insists, “because these kids are going to leave, and they’re going to need that stuff.”

Teresa was a willing student.

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Teresa Black back in her student days.

She was one of the young people to write nice things in Mrs. Erickson’s Orbit yearbook.

She graduated and went off to college.

Black was already the dining director of the Concordia Life Plan when Barbara moved in.

They didn’t recognize each other for a couple of years, but they got reacquainted at the right time.

“I was thrilled,” says Erickson. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Photo goes with story
Teresa and Barbara reunited.

The year 2020 was a tough one for a lot of reasons.

The COVID-19 pandemic made reaching out to loved ones more difficult, which is why a long lost friendship kindled by the written word, and nourished with memories, is so dear now, more than four decades later.

“This one turned out well,” laughs Barbara. “I’m proud of her. I really am.”

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