I am blatantly stealing–or borrowing–if you want to be more polite, this idea from my friend Kim. She blogs at bloomingboy and she’s the one who encouraged me to take on this challenge of blogging daily in November (which I’ve technically already failed, but I feel like I should persist, just for the practice) so I feel confident that she won’t mind.
I was extraordinarily fortunate to have had an outstanding public school education from kindergarten through graduation from high school. I attended good schools and had, for the most part, great teachers. There were a few teachers who particularly stand out as having significantly influenced my growth and development as a writer.
I remember little about second grade except that I wrote stories. Their covers were made of wallpaper scraps and I don’t recall the contents, but I remember writing them and being proud.
In sixth grade I was in a wonderful class filled with many very nerdy kids (including me, as I’ve previously acknowledged) and we had so much fun. We did a lot of improvisational theater and public speaking and writing stories using vocabulary words and I loved it all. Mrs. Hansen was very encouraging of my writing and pushed me to do more. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but that class and Mrs. Hansen’s nurturing definitely cemented my ambitions.
I was doubly blessed in 8th grade by a fantastic English teacher and an inspiring speech and drama teacher. It was about this time that I started reading the same novels my mom was reading. I remember doing a book report on The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, which is filled with violent and sexual situations, not to mention plenty of other mature themes, but I devoured it. I also wrote a review of the movie The Big Chill because I was 13 going on 35. At the top of the paper, which I typed just because I could, Ms. Mathews wrote “never stop writing” and said something about developing my gift. I felt anointed. Similarly, in speech and drama we had to write stories every week and the class voted on which ones were worthy of being posted on the bulletin board. As often as not, mine were up there and one time a classmate read a story she had written that more or less plagiarized one of mine. I was kind of upset until I realized the teacher understood what had happened and it was actually misguided flattery.
Sometime that year, in a moment of adolescent impetuousness, I tore up my application to the magnet high school most of my friends were planning to attend, worried that I would struggle with its science and math focus since I hated both subjects. So I ended up at a different high school, where I was miserable save for a young man who was my first boyfriend, and the literary magazine. Then I went to my neighborhood high school, where I was a big fish in a small pond, had three very different but equally excellent English teachers, and had the opportunity to edit the literary magazine and the newspaper. My writing got a lot of love and I fell more in love with writing. So thank you to all my teachers who guided me lovingly along this path and to all teachers who ate nurturing their students in whatever their passions are.