Mom Sets Troublemaker Down The Right Path

Berryl (left) and Virginia

Berryl Anderson (left) and her mother, Virginia, visited StoryCorps in Atlanta, the day Berryl was sworn in as chief magistrate judge in DeKalb County, Ga. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

Berryl Anderson, 49, was the family troublemaker when she was growing up. She admits it.

"I was always pretty smart academically, but my mouth would get me in a lot of trouble," she told her mom, Virginia, at StoryCorps in Atlanta. "And I found myself in the principal's office a lot, as you know, because you'd have to come to collect me and to take me home."

In fact, Berryl was such a troublemaker, her mother knew to come to her before her three siblings — Stanley, Lisa and Tyrell — when some devilment was afoot.

"You were always the leader," 70-year-old Virginia said. "And when they got in trouble, I knew to call you first, because I knew the works of your hands."

One day in elementary school, Berryl said, she was bringing her "A-game doing a little bit of stand-up comedy in front of the classroom."

"And Ms. Clayton just had this look of frustration on her face. She had her hands on her hips, and she wanted me to sit down. She had asked me politely a couple times, but I was on a roll," she said. "I mean, I had the class right where I wanted them, in the palm of my hand, and they're laughing. Then all of a sudden: dead silence. They all look to the right. I was in front of the class so I had to look to my left, and there you were. I was just caught in the act."

Virginia had made an impromptu visit because of the many notes her teacher had sent home about Berryl's behavior.

But Berryl said she was always encouraged by the fact that on the ride home from school her mother "always let me know that I was better than that. And that just being smart wasn't good enough, that I had to be a good person, and I had to be respectful of other people."

Today, Berryl is the chief magistrate judge in the state court in DeKalb County, Ga.

"I saw in you, what you didn't see in yourself," Virginia said. "And I knew what you were capable of, and I knew what you could do. I just had to make sure you took the right path, and I’m glad you made it."

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