I had just moved to Michigan and took a job working in an after school program for an elementary school. It was in a very poor section of town, and it was my first time working with a population of rough children. The head teacher in the program, an African American woman, a couple years older than I was, had gained the children's respect and didn't have any problems dealing with them. I however, did not have that respect and they would not listen to me at all. The teacher took me under her wing almost immediately, and if any child ever talked back to me she was all over it. Soon, if I spoke, the students listened.
Every morning and afternoon the kids would go to the gym to play dodgeball with this teacher, Anaya, who would have to pick one of three assistants to go with her to the gym. It would always end up being me. This would mean I would be on the opposite team so that each group of kids would have an adult. When the whistle blew, Anaya would start picking up balls and just slam me with them. She took delight in my pleading for mercy and would playfully back off when I insisted.
Some mornings she would call me on the phone and ask if I wanted to join her for breakfast. She would get the other assistants to cover for us, and we would take our time, chatting the morning away. I started looking forward to the attention I was receiving. When summer arrived, she had it arranged so that I would assist her group of children daily at camp. We became inseparable, and I looked forward to going to work each day, even though I didn't care for the long hours and small paycheck.
One day I was promoted to a floating sub for the whole community and my friendship with her ended.
I am certain that this unique experience with Anaya made it easy to be entranced by Tracey ten years later.