Casey Parks is a Spencer Fellow in Education at Columbia Journalism School. She grew up in Monroe, Louisiana, and spent more than a decade working for the Oregonian newspaper. Her nonfiction book, Diary of a Misfit, will be published by Knopf in 2021.
A feature essay from the Spring 2020 issue.
I wasn’t sure how to explain to a rising high-school junior why I’d followed her and her classmates to Belize. I’d met Pierre-Floyd a few months before during a tour of Frederick A. Douglass High School, the Ninth Ward charter school where she works, and she’d told me, in passing, that she planned to take twenty-five kids to Belize. Pierre-Floyd said she’d been the first in her family to graduate from college and she thought a high school trip she’d taken to Ghana had helped her earn a degree. She wanted to give her students the same experience.