Mom Sets Troublemaker Down The Right Path Berryl Anderson was a class clown and troublemaker when she was growing up. But her mom taught her that it wasn't enough to be smart, she also had to be a good person and be respectful of other people. Now she's a judge in Dekalb County, Ga.

Mom Sets Troublemaker Down The Right Path

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Time now for StoryCorps, the project that records stories from around the country. Today, we hear from Berryl Anderson and her mother, Virginia. They came to StoryCorps in Atlanta to talk about what Berryl was like as a child. Turns out, she was the family troublemaker.

Ms. BERRYL ANDERSON: I was always pretty smart, academically, but my mouth would get me in a lot of trouble. 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.

VIRGINIA: Yes. I went to the principal's office so many times for you, you made up for the other three children.

Ms. ANDERSON: Oh, yeah.

VIRGINIA: You were always the leader. And when they got in trouble, I knew to call you first 'cause I knew the works of your hand.

Ms. ANDERSON: I remember one day in elementary school, Miss Clayton's class, I was actually bringing my A-game, doing a little bit of stand-up comedy in front of the classroom. And Miss 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. 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.


Ms. ANDERSON: And over the years, I've always been encouraged by the fact that on that ride home - whether it was a short ride from elementary school, which was right around the corner, or the ride home from Central High School - you always let me know that I was better than that, and that just being smart wasn't good enough. But I had to be a good person, and I had to be respectful of other people.

VIRGINIA: Well, I saw in you what you didn't see in yourself. And I knew what you was capable of, and I knew what you could do. I just had to make sure you took the right path, and Im glad you made it.

Ms. ANDERSON: You've been there for me, Mom. At times when I wanted you there, and at times - like in fifth grade - when I didn't want you there. And I've always been so grateful for that.

(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: Judge Berryl Anderson with her mom, Virginia, at StoryCorps in Atlanta. The day they recorded their conversation, Berryl was sworn in as the chief magistrate judge in DeKalb County, Georgia.

Their conversation will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Find the StoryCorps podcast at

(Soundbite of music)


Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.