Previously: For months, Jallon Brown has been trying to hire a fifth-grade math teacher for KIPP Harbor Academy, a new public charter middle school near Annapolis. To catch up on previous episodes, go to

Episode 7

The e-mail from the teacher arrived the morning of Jallon Brown's wedding, and, though she'd vowed not to do any work, the 31-year-old principal couldn't resist a peek.

Jallon had interviewed about a dozen people for the fifth-grade math position at KIPP Harbor Academy. Some of them weren't qualified, she says. Others balked after learning about KIPP Harbor's extraordinary demands, which include 10-hour workdays and a requirement that all the teachers carry cell phones to field homework questions from students.

Now, with the start of the school year just days away, Jallon tried not to get too excited about the e-mail from math teacher Anne Hammer, who'd learned about the new public charter middle school in The Washington Post Magazine. Jallon had already scheduled one interview for the day after the wedding. Now she quickly scheduled another, then turned her attention back to her wedding.

Soon she was walking arm-in-arm with her father across the stone terrace of Ceresville Mansion in Frederick. On Jallon's forearm, her sister had scrawled "I Love You" in blue marker, just as Jallon had done to her when she'd gotten married. It was their twist on the tradition of wearing something blue. Beneath her gown, Jallon also wore a pin that had belonged to her mother, who died of breast cancer nine years ago.

As nearly 140 guests fanned themselves against the withering heat and humidity, Jallon reached the ivy-draped veranda where Phil Croskey, who's also 31, was waiting for her. Out of the corner of her eye, she says, she saw her 8-month-old son, Malachi, sitting on his uncle's lap in the first row, amusing himself by flapping a wedding program. Jallon started to laugh. "It was really funny," she says. "Then he put the program in his mouth."

After she and Phil exchanged vows, everyone found relief inside the cool, 117-year-old mansion, where the deejay didn't stop playing until midnight. Jallon says everyone was having such a great time that they had to encourage their guests to head home.

The next afternoon, before packing her bags for five days in Aruba, Jallon met Anne Hammer at an Annapolis coffee shop. Jallon was impressed with the math teacher, who had already passed muster with Anne Arundel County personnel administrators. (As a publicly funded charter school, KIPP Harbor's teachers are hired by Jallon, but paid and employed by the county's public school system.)

Hammer had just finished her first year of teaching at a middle school in Richmond that, like KIPP Harbor, serves mostly low-income minority students. The two woman seemed to click on a personal level, too. Like Jallon, Hammer is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. "So clearly she must be brilliant," Jallon laughs.

That evening, after interviewing another candidate, Jallon called Hammer to offer her the job, which she immediately accepted. The next day, Jallon and Phil flew to Aruba for beach-bumming, snorkeling and tubing. Jallon's cell phone was off, but she had stowed a black laptop computer in her bag. The hotel had a wireless Internet connection.

-- Tyler Currie