Arkansas school seeing double – and double and double …

Donna Hilton

Central Primary School in Arkadelphia could be the set for a Doublemint commercial. Including teachers who are twins, there are five sets of twins and one set of triplets at the school this year.

Debbie Robertson and Kathy Crow are second- and third-grade teachers at the school. Twin students are Keshawn and Reshawn Bledsoe, Renee and Brooke Burtness, Josh and Jack Burnham and Amad and Rashad Morris. The triplets are William, Sallie and Blanton Matthews.

This is Crow's first year at Central, and some students asked to be in her class after being in Robertson's for second grade, Robertson said.

"The kids say, 'I want the teacher that matches Miss Robertson,'" she said.

The philosophy for teaching twins has changed since Crow and Robertson were children. When they first moved to Arkadelphia as children, the two were placed in the same classes.

"It was good and bad," Robertson said. "We never had to be the new kid alone."

However, the two soon tired of being in the same classes.

"It got old really quick," Crow said.

Now, twins are placed in different homerooms so they form their own friendships and interests, the teachers said. But whenever the student siblings are together, the close bond they share can be seen.

"Just about every time you see Brooke and Renee, they're holding hands," Robertson said.

Crow, who formerly taught fifth grade at Peake Elementary, was worried about transferring to Central.

"I didn't want to confuse the kids," she said.

But the students have no problem distinguishing Crow from Robertson.

"It's the adults who are fooled," she said.

Robertson and Crow each have stories of people coming up to them in stores thinking they are the other. It is so common that the teachers switched places once.

"Kathy was over at Peake, so I went over there," Robertson said. Crow did fine at Central, but Crow's students at Peake caught on to Robertson pretty quickly. "They said, 'You're not Miss Crow!'"

It's very easy to confuse the two. The most distinguishing feature is a beauty mark that Robertson has on her right cheek. Kathy does not have a beauty mark.

The two switched places one other time, on a double date, using makeup to disguise the beauty mark on Robertson and add one to Crow. They were at a movie in downtown Arkadelphia.

"We went to the bathroom and came back as each other," Crow said. "Our boyfriends got so mad, they took us home."

Most of the time, they don't correct adults who mistake them for each other. "It's just easier to go along with them than to correct them," Robertson said.

Sometimes being a twin comes in handy, such as avoiding contact with someone.

"If someone I don't want to speak with comes up to me, I can pretend I'm the other one," Robertson said.

Like the other sibling groups at Central, Robertson and Crow share a close bond, even speaking the same words at the same time in answer to questions.

They've always been close, they said. After graduating together at Arkadelphia High School, they attended Henderson State University, confusing at least one instructor, Robertson said.

The sisters didn't share a dorm room while in college, but they did share a residence at one time: "We shared an apartment before we were born," Crow said, laughing.

The sisters now live only two blocks apart. They each have two children. Robertson has daughters; Crow has sons. Their children are great friends as well, they said.

The sisters speak often on the phone, even after seeing each other at school all day.

"We call each other and get busy signals, because we're calling each other," Robertson said.

Their husbands, B. K. Robertson and Daren Crow, work together in maintenance at Ouachita Baptist University.

"They take a lot of teasing about us," Crow said.

As for the student twins and triplets at Central, Crow and Robertson keep an eye out for them.

"We don't know if any of them have switched places," Robertson said.

"But we would catch on because we've pulled all the pranks" twins pull, Crow said.

Arkadelphia, Ark., Siftings Herald