Sixty-one year old Rick Ayers logs into MySpace and Facebook several times a week to talk to his 777, mostly teenaged, friends. The recently retired Berkeley High School English teacher was immensely popular for his down-to-earth teaching style and engaging personality. Now, he stays in touch with his students virtually. The "humble, mild-mannered English teacher," as his MySpace profile states, founded one of Berkeley's High School's small schools within the high school, called Community Arts and Sciences. With the help of his CAS students, Ayers published a slang dictionary now sold on Amazon.com
. Post-retirement, Ayers has been working as an adjunct professor in education at the University of San Francisco and teaching at UC Berkeley. He's also a student of the language, literacy, and culture Ph.D program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. Former students call Mr. Ayers "Pappa CAS" and "CAS OG" (Community Arts and Sciences Original Gangsta). Underneath it all, he's just a white-haired guy with round, wire-rimmed glasses who loves to teach and loves to learn.