“It’s in something called the Eastern Panhandle." I replied to my best friend who had asked me to Google Martinsburg, West Virginia. "Okay, I know where it is now."
She had taken West Virginia History in 8th grade as required. She was at a job fair in Buffalo. I had returned home to Staten Island to do my student teaching and found a teaching position at a middle school.
My friendship with Melissa (Stewart) Hollen ('03), started in a room on the ground floor of Ketchum Hall in Multicultural Literature. The stories I could tell from that classroom! From the time I yelled at Melissa for leaving her purse at her desk as we went out on a break - and then rudely asked her where she was from (every New Yorker knows you keep your purse with you) - to the more recent adventure on March 28, 2010, when I sat with her parents and in-laws as she and Jr brought Blake into the world.
We were separated by distance after our graduation from Buffalo State College. Yet, out of a desire to own a home - an improbability for a single teacher in New York City - and to be close to Melissa, I found my way to West Virginia. In 2006, I started teaching at Martinsburg High School. I was new to not only the area but the high school level. My department chair, Karen Demick, made me feel at ease and we quickly found out that we had both attended Buffalo State. Karen is the Beta Alpha chapter president of Alpha Delta Kappa; the teacher sorority to which we both belong.
In April of 2013, we returned to Buffalo and spent two days at the Teacher Recruitment Days interviewing prospective teachers. Meeting teachers who are enthusiastic about getting into the classroom renewed my excitement for our profession. Melissa and I will continue in her tradition of being an excellent representation of Buffalo State’s alumni.
(pictured above, Elliott, right, Hollen, left)