One summer we moved to Atteiram Heights. Behind our house was a huge, vacant lot, which for many years is where YMCA day camp was held. The boys in the neighborhood made magnificent bike trails there and had a great time racing bikes. Between our house and the open lot was a wooded area where the neighborhood boys built forts, played army and went camping.

In 1970, Rome City Schools employed a “neighborhood schools” concept. North Heights Elementary School was formed by combining Northside Elementary School with North Rome Elementary School. North Heights was built on that vacant lot behind our house. The new school opened in 1971, and Mama taught second grade there until she retired in 1984.

In those days, the late Fred Waters was principal at East Rome High School. His wife, the late Betty Zane Waters, taught second grade at North Heights. Their daughter, Joy, was in my class at East Rome. Mrs. Waters and Mama had adjoining classrooms. The first day of school, before going to East Rome, we stopped by North Heights to see our mothers’ classrooms.

Although I didn’t attend North Heights, my memories are of all those great teachers and staff with whom Mama worked every day. Many of the folks from that era have since passed away. The late Mary Nell Vann taught first-grade. The late Virginia Ford was my third-grade teacher at North Rome, and she taught third-grade at North Heights for many years. One year at North Heights, Mrs. Ford found my third-grade mathematics textbook in which I’d written my name. She gave it to Mama. I still have that textbook.

The late Alice Dahlstrom was the principal at North Rome and went on to serve as principal at North Heights. Yet another of Mama’s friends from those days was the late Mary Alice Kent. She was the librarian. I enjoyed going to the library because she always helped me find just the right book.

Celebration of North Heights

North Heights Elementary School, which opened 47 years ago, is being closed. Next fall, those students and staff will go to the new Main Elementary School. With that in mind, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, North Heights hosted a celebration of North Heights Elementary School. What a delightful idea! I attended the celebration because I wanted to represent Mama. I thought there might not be a soul there whom I knew, but former fifth-grade teacher Phyllis Rucker and former second-grade teacher Janet Morris were there. Janet was Mama’s best and dearest friend in the world. It was wonderful to see her and have a chance to visit with her.

North Heights, as I mentioned, is behind my old house, 3 Poinsettias Drive. The house where I grew up. The happiest place on earth. Phyllis told me Janet rode with her to the celebration. They rode by Poinsettia Drive, looked at Mama’s house and said, “There’s Charlotte’s house.” Indeed. That will always be Mama’s house.

Henriece Berrien, whom I believe taught sixth-grade, was at the celebration. Also there was former East Rome High School Principal David Holland and his wife, Winnie. The Hollands’ daughter, Miriam Loveless, is a counselor at East Central and North Heights alumnus.

North Heights, a great neighborhood school

At the celebration, former principals and former students spoke about how much they enjoyed North Heights. One of the speakers mentioned former principals and said, “Who was the first principal at North Heights?” We all responded, “Alice Dahlstrom!”

Mrs. Jennifer Perkins, former North Heights student, is principal of RTA/PLC. One day at North Heights, Mrs. Perkins was having difficulty doing something. Four teachers overheard her comment, “I can’t do it.” They came to her and promptly convinced her she could do anything she set her mind to. That is the kind of school North Heights was. Thanks for the memories.

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, avid cyclist, history enthusiast and ardent reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at