D.C. School Superintendent Floretta D. McKenzie took a break from her paper work and administrative duties yesterday and returned to the classroom to teach a geography class at Deal Junior High School.
For an hour McKenzie, who studied geography in college, used the Geneva summit meetings to pepper the seventh-grade class with questions about European geography and the conference. To prompt one student to remember the location of Rome, she asked, "What country does pizza come from?"
Maybe it was the way she asked questions of the dozen students that impressed them, or perhaps it was the way she gently touched the students or encouraged them. But when the bell sounded she was rewarded with hugs and an invitation to "come back" to the Northwest Washington school.
"I liked the way she told us about everything," said Edith Fox, 13. "She's intelligent and it seems like she likes to teach geography a lot."
Adrian Lawson, 12, who answered several of McKenzie's questions and was photographed by several newspaper and television crews, said later, "It was a very interesting experience. I liked it. It makes me feel famous."
McKenzie, a former public school teacher, said, "It feels good to be back in the classroom. It's tiring, but it feels good."
Her appearance was part of a week-long celebration of American Education Week.
McKenzie said she decided to use the summit conference as a way to teach the students about Russia, other parts of Europe and Asia, and the efforts for world peace. "It's important to give kids the broad picture," she said.
Every city school and several government agencies have scheduled special events this week.
On Monday, a group of student leaders held a forum in the school board chambers downtown to assess the school system. Curtis Etherly, 16, a Ballou High School senior, and other students urged school officials to teach youths daily about the dangers of drug abuse and teen-age pregnancy.
"On any given day, too many District school students are not in school," said Etherly, a student in the humanities program. "Students are at home, caring for children, working, looking for immediate gratification. Are they victims of their own cries for passion or victims of a system that is deaf to their pleas?"
Tomorrow, McKenzie will speak at a town meeting at Eastern High School at 17th and East Capitol streets.