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September 16, 2012

Fourth grade friendship reunites teachers

DUNCAN — It took a lot of coincidences for Erica Mackey and Sarah Brund to reconnect after nearly 20 years. If Mackey hadn’t decided to change jobs to pursue a career in education, it never would have happened. If Brund’s family hadn’t been searching for a bowling alley to purchase in Oklahoma, once again, the two never would have met again.

Mackey and Brund were in the same fourth-grade class during the 1992-93 school year in Berlin, Germany. The two are now fourth-grade teachers at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Duncan.

“It’s strange we figured it out to begin with,” Mackey said. “We were talking about school food, and I mentioned the food they had in Germany.”

How they both attended fourth grade in Germany is simple. Each had a parent in the military. Mackey’s mom was in the Army, while Brund’s dad was in the Air Force.

Getting to Duncan was more coincidence.

Mackey’s mother was stationed at Fort Sill. When her mom retired from the military, the family moved to Central High. When Mackey got married, she moved to Duncan.

Brund’s dad retired in Enid. Following his retirement, Brund’s family began looking for a bowling alley to own. It was in Duncan the Brund family purchased Freedom Lanes.

Even with the “Small World” coincidence of ending up in Duncan, it was an odd twist of fate both went to work for Woodrow Wilson as fourth-grade teachers.

It took Brund two years to get a job with Duncan Public Schools. Last year, she joined the Woodrow Wilson team midway through the year.

“I think it’s great,” Brund said. “There’s so much you can do with them at this age.”

Mackey had a job working for a title company. Following her decision to enter the education career field, Mackey spent a portion of the last school year as a student teacher. During that time period, the two reconnected without realizing they were former classmates.

When Mackey was hired full-time to Woodrow, she was initially set to be a second-grade teacher. But the school’s need ended up being greater in fourth grade.

“I’m liking it,” she said.

Although their memories of their fourth-grade experience are a bit spotty, there are certain things they’ll never forget. Brund remembers a rope jungle gym. But that could mostly be attributed to her foot getting tangled in the rope.

And Mackey remembers the fourth-grade teacher braiding the hair of all the girls in the class. Both remember doing a gift exchange with students from a Russian school.

Something they don’t remember is each other.

But they share enough memories, it’s almost like they’re rediscovering their years in Germany.

In a class picture taken 20 years ago, the two women, as children, were seated right next to one another. Now, they have classrooms right next to one another.

Even though they love their jobs in America, both have fond memories of their school in Berlin.

They acknowledged their elementary years were advanced beyond the American education system. Much of their fourth-grade learning was hands on and field trips.

It was a different style of teaching. As such, it allowed them to look at things differently.

“It was great,” Mackey said.

Even though they’ve ended up working with each other in Duncan, their time spent in Germany helped them see just how large the world can be and just how small their world can get.

They’ve even discussed possibly taking a trip to Germany to see where a portion of their childhood took place, to reflect, to remember.

“I loved it,” Brund said. “I would love to see the apartment complexes we lived in and the playground.”

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