Girl whose teacher wrote on her face 13 years ago reflects on the controversy (video)

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.


It was thirteen years ago a when a white teacher wrote, “where are my glasses” on the face of a little black girl. The incident received national attention.

Back in 1996, a shy 5-year-old at Pepperhill Elementary School, named Nina Campbell, became the center of a national controversy because her teacher wrote on her face with a marker as a reminder to the child’s mother. It took 8 days to wear off, but the firestorm of controversy followed for months.

Today, Nina is a happy, vibrant 17-year-old soccer and basketball player, who will graduate from high school with honors.

“I was embarrassed because we were in class and she took me aside at the end of the day and said let me write your mom a note. Because you don’t know where your glasses are. I’m thinking she’s going to write on a piece of paper, and she said let me hold your face, she started writing on my face, and then the whole bus ride home, people were talking laughing at me. I was embarrassed when I got home I was crying,” Nina said.

The first year teacher, Phyliss Adelsflugel, was suspended, and required to take sensitivity training. She then returned to school despite protests, and eventually left the Charleston county school district.

“I mean I don’t feel any bad or good from her. It happened in the past. That’s all I have to say on that,” Nina says.

Her mom says after the incident, they were ridiculed and received death threats.

Now, an honor roll student, Nina Campbell, is determined to put the past behind her to write a new chapter in her life.

“All this stuff that happened in my lifetime. I never let it get me down. It happened in the past. There’s nothing I can do to change it. So I just here I am. I’m just strong.”

Nina Campbell will graduate from Charleston Academy. She says she’s not sure yet which branch of military she wants to go into, but knows for sure she wants to serve her country. The family did settle a lawsuit with the Charleston County School District. As for the teacher, Phyliss Adelfugel, officials with the Charleston County School District have lost contact with her.