There and back again
Former Crittenden student returns to teach at local middle school
Barbara Wright's orientation day at Crittenden Middle School wasn't so much an introduction as it was a refresher course. The seventh-grade science teacher knew the lay of the land pretty well, since she attended Crittenden as a student.
Though much has changed — Crittenden no longer has a fifth grade class, new buildings have been erected, playgrounds have been removed — she says that in essence, it's a lot like she remembers it.
"I really like the area," Wright says. "This is a really good district."
Wright says she hadn't planned on returning to the district where she grew up. Rather, she happened upon the position somewhat serendipitously. Though she has lived in Central and Southern California since she was a college student, she happened to attend a Santa Clara County job fair, where she ran into a familiar face — Stephanie Totter, former assistant superintendent of the district. Wright's mother, who worked in the district for a time, knew Totter, and by extension so did Wright.
Totter and another former teacher of Wright's waved her over to the booth, where she put her name down on a list of potential candidates, and she was soon called for an interview.
"They offered me the job," Wright says. "I thought about it and I thought that it would be cool to go back to Crittenden."
Wright spent most of her childhood and adolescence living just a short walk from Theuerkauf Elementary School, which she entered as a first-grader. She started at Crittenden as a fifth-grader in August of 1995, and graduated from Los Altos High School in 2004.
And although she has been living outside the Bay Area for about eight years, she says it felt as if she never left — with the exception that there is now much more traffic than she remembers.
"I feel very connected to the experiences I had as a child," she says. "Even though things have changed, it's still generally the same town."
This connection to her home town helps her feel as if she understands her students, although she doesn't make a point of telling them she grew up down the street. For Wright, the most important thing is that she likes the people she works with. She isn't sure if that has anything to do with the location of the school, but whatever the reason, she is happy to be teaching here.
"Honestly, I really like Crittenden from the staff side," she says. "That means more to me than the name 'Crittenden Middle School.'"