When math teacher Reggie Black returned to West Potomac High School after his summer vacation, he had a lot to talk about. Unlike when he left in the spring and could only say that he had to take time off, he could now share a little more information about his family’s trip.
As one of the 10 families for this season’s Amazing Race series, they had a summer they will never forget. Although they were eliminated after the first round, they still spent an incredible summer sequestered while the remaining nine families continued their races.
This all came about when they decided to try out for this season’s Amazing Race earlier this year. Black said that they weren’t die-hard reality show buffs but wondered what it would be like to travel to different parts of the world.
"Kim and I don’t watch much TV, but the one show we watched was ‘Amazing Race.’ Once it won an Emmy, it caught our attention," said Reggie Black. "Our everyday schedule is like a race. We used to joke about it and then we decided to try out for the show."
AND SO THE JOURNEY began. They began the interviewing process along with 50,000 other families in late February/early March. Reggie Black said that the interview process was just as stressful as the race, with interviews being held in New York City, Las Vegas and other locations. They had to pull Kenneth and Austin out of school and Kimberly, a fifth-grade teacher at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in Alexandria, had to take time off as well.
"I’ve been there for 12 years and never take time off," said Kimberly Black. "I couldn’t tell the principal, Debbie Thompson, where I was going, but I told her it was ‘something big.’ She was very supportive."
Kimberly Black said that the producers were great and treated them very well. All flights, meals and hotels were paid for throughout the process.
When asked if they got discouraged through the selection process, Reggie Black said, "As we kept getting closer, our drive for the races was stronger and stronger. And lo and behold we made it. Once we got the final word, we were very excited and said, ‘Let’s go for it.’"
They then started doing some serious preparation for the race. This coincided with the end of the school year, so during the day they still had to stay focused on school and work, but in the evenings, they focused on the race.
THE 10 TEAMS started out in New York City, crossed the Delaware River and ended up in Lancaster, Pa. They had the choice of building a house or pushing a buggy; the Blacks decided to build the house instead. When all was said and done they came in last.
"We had a good run; nothing to be ashamed of," said Reggie Black. "We didn’t get to the finish line but we worked together and are proud of how we handled ourselves. Don’t feel too bad for us; we were very well taken care of."
After they were eliminated they spent the rest of the summer sequestered and they knew what was going on as people connected with the race kept them up to date.
"It was pretty cultivating; there were no down moments — it was wonderful," said Reggie Black.
If there was a downside, it was the fact that they had to leave two-year-old Jordan behind. However, he was well taken care of by Tae Kwon Do families. Tae Kwon Do is something that the entire family participates in with all of the members having achieved a certain level.
Kimberly Black said, "If anybody has an opportunity to do it, do it. You just can’t let it control you. We learned how to be strong."
And so how does it feel that their more than 15 minutes of fame is over? Well, even though the Blacks were eliminated early they are still much in the public eye. Reggie said that the American public has embraced them with emails and letters. In September, they went to New York City for an interview with the CBS Morning Show.
After that they walked the streets of New York City, and Black said, "I was surprised that people knew who we were. They said nice things about our performance."
THIS IS REGGIE BLACK’S second year teaching math at WPHS. Prior to that, he taught math at C.D. Hylton High School in Prince William County for four years. He graduated from Norfolk State University with a degree in mathematics.
"He [Mr. Black] is an excellent teacher who can work well with all Algebra students, but especially those who normally have trouble with math," said Rima Vesilind, WPHS principal. "He makes it a personal mission to have each of his students pass the SOLs."
Kimberly Black is a fifth-grade teacher in Alexandria. She earned her master's in education from Marymount University.
Kenneth is in sixth grade and his favorite hobbies are soccer and Tae Kwon Do; he earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do over two years ago.
Austin is in the fourth grade and at 8 years old, he is the youngest contestant ever to compete in the Amazing Race. He has an advanced brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and plans on earning his black belt within the next few months.
The Black family lives in Woodbridge. Reggie and Kimberly Black, who met in undergraduate school, have been married for over 17 years.