Ask-A-Wench: Our Thank You to Teachers

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Susan here, with our Ask-A-Wench prompt for December: Wenches, was there a teacher who influenced you and helped you realize that you wanted to be a writer? Scroll down for our answers!

Our teachers may not have been Professor Snape or Professor McGonagall at Hogwarts, or Miss Shields in A Christmas Story, or even the economics teacher (“Anyone? Anyone?”) in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (some of my favorite movie teachers!). Even so, we were very fortunate in our teachers, encountering some who particularly encouraged, guided, and/or nudged us to discover our talents during our grade school and university years.

McgonagallSo in this holiday season of gratitude, we want to remember the special teachers in our lives. It seems especially important now when teachers truly need to be recognized for their dedication, resourcefulness, imagination, caring–and their resilience when it’s as challenging to be a teacher as it is rewarding. We want to say “thank you!” for what our teachers did for us then and thank teachers everywhere for all they do for their students now.  

Read on as we share some memories of the amazing teachers who helped us discover that, after all, we were writers. Please share in the comments some memories of your own favorite teachers!

Pat here: I’ve had several really superb teachers, including one who made it easy to understand basic algebra. Now Education there’s a gem! But algebra didn’t affect my life, even though he gave me the confidence to survive later high school math classes with abysmal teachers.

The teacher who gently led me out of the awkward middle-school blues started out as a substitute teacher and later took over the class when our regular teacher went on maternity leave. I was too young to understand how she did it, but in both roles, she encouraged my creativity, made me feel as if I wasn’t as weird as I thought, and offered me hope for the future. A kid can really hang onto those pats on the back, the praise for a particularly nice piece of work, personal words of admiration for work done, and public recognition. At that age, kids are humiliated by everything—themselves, their parents, school bullies. Public criticism isn’t anywhere as effective as public acclaim, which encourages a child to do better instead of crawl under the desk.

So along with teaching me that I had a special gift, she also taught me how best to deal with others. As a shy, socially inept kid, learning that one small lesson made an enormous difference in how I dealt with the world forever after.

christmas story classroomNicola here. The first teacher who inspired me was my mother. She taught French and German in a local high school and impressed on me the importance and the fun of learning. It was something I never forgot and I admired her very much. I was a bookish child and felt very comfortable surrounded by people who read and studied. 

I went to a small school where most of the teachers were very good even if some of the subjects didn’t inspire me! Both my English teacher, Mr Conway, and my History teacher, Mrs Chary, were amazing. Mrs Chary made history lessons feel like storytelling – it was exciting and made history feel alive. She was the person who nurtured my love of the subject and sent me off on a lifelong quest to read and study it.

Mr Conway was a slightly scary teacher as he had a sarcastic eloquence that could cut you down to size. I remember him once writing a note on the bottom of one of my essays, asking if I had swallowed a dictionary! But he was a great and encouraging teacher and many years later, when I was a published author, he contacted me to say how happy and proud he was that I was a writer. That really touched me. I know how important an inspiring teacher is and I was so lucky to have several in my life.

Christina says: I never had any teachers who inspired me to do great things. I’ve heard other authors say they became writers because of the encouragement of their English teachers, but although I liked mine, no one ever suggested I should do anything to do with books other than read them. My writing career came about in quite a different way. I did, however, have one teacher who made me believe in myself and to feel as though I had the potential to do well in anything I did, and he went on to become a lifelong friend.

When I attended high school in Tokyo – the American School in Japan or ASIJ for short – I studied Velasco and Spanish as I enjoyed learning languages. I really lucked out with my Spanish teacher, Mr José Velasco. He was a wonderful man, always smiling, joking and positive, and trying to encourage us to speak the language rather than just learning vocabulary and grammar by heart. He made lessons fun and I never heard him shouting or saw him get angry. He had a wry sense of humour that I loved, and there was a lot of laughter in that class. There was one student who I think was a genius (his IQ was through the roof) which meant he got everything right on paper, but he couldn’t speak a word of Spanish and it must have driven Mr Velasco mad. Yet he only reprimanded him with a smile, encouraging him to try harder next time – he had the patience of a saint! Because I was European like him (the others in the class were American or Japanese), we got on really well and – not to brag or anything – but my Spanish accent was pretty good because I spent summer vacations in Spain with my family and hung out with the local kids there. Mr Velasco kindly awarded me the annual Spanish prize at the end of my junior year and I was delighted because it made me feel worthwhile and to realise that I was actually really good at something.

He was one of the teachers who gave me a reference for college and after I graduated, we kept in touch sporadically via Christmas cards and the occasional letter. He was thrilled when I decided to study Spanish as part of my university degree and always wrote to me in that language so that I would get lots of practice. Many years later, when I went back to visit Japan with my husband and daughters, we met up with him and his lovely Japanese wife for a delicious meal and lots of chatting. He was interested in everything and so easy to talk to, and always encouraged me to keep up my Spanish skills. Sadly, he has now passed away but I will always remember him with fondness and gratitude.

SchoolkidsDancingAnne here. I've been trying to think of teachers I had who made me want to become a writer, but the truth is, none of my English teachers was particularly inspiring in that direction. In fact I left high school believing that I was no good at creative writing at all. In fact, creative writing was something of a mystery to me. You see it was never presented as "write a story" — it was usually some obscure exercise like writing a scene set at night in the city, using as many colors as you can.  Plot? Characters? Irrelevant. But had it been "write a story" I probably would have been off and running.

But the teacher who most affected my life, was my maths teacher in year 8 — Mrs Reckenberg. You see by that time, I was at my 5th school, and I had just told her we'd be moving again next year — to the big city, Melbourne. She asked me where in Melbourne and I told her. She was horrified. You see both my parents were teachers, and liked to work in disadvantaged areas, where they felt they could do the most good. They weren't at all worried about my education — I was good at school. I'd manage.

But Mrs Reckenberg knew we were moving into quite a rough area, and the high school I would be attending had a very poor reputation. It didn't even have a final year, let alone good results. So she spoke to my parents and arranged for me to sit the entrance exam at a large academic high school in the heart of the city, over the road from Melbourne University. I was accepted, and it changed my life. The students at that high school came from all over Melbourne, and this country girl got to know other parts of the city not at all like where I was living. It was a great school and it stimulated us in all kinds of ways — not just academic — and when, at the beginning of my final year, we moved again to the other side of the city, I didn't have to change schools or disrupt my education at all. I made friends at that high school that I still see today, and later, along with many of my schoolmates, I studied at Melbourne University, which is one of the top universities in Australia — and the world.  I still occasionally wonder how my life might have been had I gone to that high school where most students left at 15, and every time I do, I feel so grateful to Mrs Reckenberg.

AD early artAndrea says: I’ve been lucky enough to have a number of wonderful teachers. I know they all played a great part in encouraging my love for learning, and I’m profoundly grateful to them for sparking that sense of excitement and joy in exploring and expanding my world of knowledge. It’s hard to choose one teacher in particular who was the biggest influence, but I do have a mentor who stands out because I credit Mr. White  with opening my eyes to the magic of storytelling. As a kid, I was constantly drawing pictures and making up little stories about them (in fact, I was writing and illustrating stories before I even knew how to write, as my Mother’s collection of my early art shows!) However, there was one assignment in his class that made me see things in a whole new light.

It was sixth grade English, and I vividly remember him announcing that he was going to do something a little different in class that day. He had a sheaf of paper in his hands that looked like they had been torn out of vintage books. As he started to pass them out, I saw they were illustrations—old woodcuts of all sorts of different scenes. As he walked by each student’s desk, he chose a picture and put it down. When he came to me, the image—I still see it clearly—was that of a young Masai warrior crouched down and facing a huge lion with thick mane and bared teeth. “The assignment,” he announced, “is to study your picture and write a short story about it—let your imagination have some fun." Toward the end of class we turned in our stories, and he read through them while we did some written grammar exercises. He then asked a few people to read their stories aloud. I was one of them . . . and I still remember my opening sentences : Bead of sweat broke out on Nemo’s forehead. (Hey I give myself credit for understanding back then that first sentence needed to grab a reader’s attention!) When class was over, he was waiting at the door and walked out into the hall with me. “You know,” he said, “you’re really, really good at storytelling,” That encouragement really stuck with me, and though it was a circuitous road before I decided to take up writing full time, I’ll never forget Mr. White and his wonderful creative writing lesson. 

Mary Jo says: I grew up in the farm country of Western New York.  My school was one of many central schools, with a handsome building that was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project back in the 1930s.  There was nothing special about the school, but that didn't mean it wasn't good.  Most of the teachers were capable and conscientious. 

Classroom-g651f991d7_1920Though I haven't forgotten being in seventh grade when a teacher talked to me about my "attitude."  I was puzzled what she meant so I finally asked. "Do you mean I'm cynical?"

She exclaimed, "You shouldn't know a word like that!" 

I was notably uncowed by this rather odd experience. <G>  It didn't stop me from reading and expanding my vocabulary!

No one ever encouraged me to become a writer either then or later in college.  Actually, I can't remember anyone ever giving me career advice.  I guess my teachers thought I'd figure it out for myself. I was seriously addicted to reading stories and my impossible fantasy was to become a writer, but rural New York was not a hotbed of authors so I prepared for more reliable employment.

The only person who ever said I was a storyteller was my Mayhem Consultant and future husband.  We were driving through an isolated area of California's Central Valley, out of range of a radio station in a time before there were alternative entertainment devices. Syracuse univ

From sheer boredom, I started telling him the story of the Twelve Labors of the Little Fish, who was in love with the Crab Princess, who wasn't very pretty and she wasn't very smart, and some people thought she was obnoxious, but he loved her anyhow.

However, her father, the Alaskan King Crab, didn't want his daughter to marry a mere little fish, so he set her suitor with twelve mighty tasks to carry out. I borrowed heavily from the Twelve Labors of Hercules, with topical bits from our lives.  The Fabled Fabulous Fishing Cats of Sumatra were born from this saga. <G>   The MC kept saying. "I didn't know you could tell stories!" 

Can't everybody? I thought. As it turned out, no, not everyone can.  So I learned when I bought my first computer and the MC showed me how to use the word processing program.  The rest is history.

But being able to tell stories doesn't mean it's ever easy!

Here's an image of the very dramatic and Gothic Crouse College of Syracuse University, where I got my English and Industrial Design degrees.  When I was a student, Crouse College housed both the art and music departments. I have fond memories of sketching details of the carved staircase for my drawing class while down below, music students were playing and singing beautiful music in the practice rooms in the basement. 

christmas story miss shieldsSusan here. Years ago, my dad found an old report card of mine from second grade, and in the comment section, the teacher had written, “Susie is a good little storyteller!” We had a good laugh wondering *quite* what she meant – though I remember loving to write stories in my most earnest penmanship (remember that paper with the dotted guidelines?). Before that, as a very little preschool girl, I loved making up stories about princesses (and loved drawing princesses whenever I had a crayon and a blank page—in a book of nursery rhymes, in the family bible . . .). Here's a sample of my work.  😉 Susan preschool art

In grade school, I was shy, tiny, and scared of everything, but somehow they tagged me as a smart kid and put me in a small group throughout elementary school. My fifth-grade teacher, Mr. McIntyre, had this group and gave us extra work. He was a great teacher, funny and always encouraging–it was in his class that I began to feel like I was doing well, especially in art, reading, and writing (math was, and still is, a bugaboo).

But it wasn't until I went to the University of Maryland that I encountered professors who not only encouraged me to write, but taught me real skills to do so – meticulous research, yes, and also the importance of pacing, interesting language, flow, goals, solving a historical puzzle, keeping the reader interested, all translatable to fiction (which I secretly wanted to try someday). Dr. Farquhar in medieval, Dr. Wheelock in Baroque, and Dr. Hauptman in 19th-century studies all helped me so much with improving the writing (at the grad level, tons of in-depth research papers!). With their amazing mentoring, I was selected to present original research at the National Gallery of Art. During those years, one small moment stands out when an eminent art historian said of one of my papers, “This is publishable quality.” Another proud moment was, years later, running into Dr. Wheelock on a visit to the NGA, and how fun it was to tell him that I was multi-published with Penguin. My professors, and those intense grad years, made a much better writer out of me. Blackbd TY

Now I’m not only a published writer, I also teach creative writing to middle and upper school students—and that has taught me new respect for teachers, including the teachers in my own family, who are just incredible, and among the best I’ve ever seen. They put in long hours, have unbelievable workloads, and deeply, truly care about every kid in their classrooms.

So here’s to teachers who made a difference every day in our lives and make a difference to children today. They are a quiet, steady, essential force helping to shape the world and the future. Thank you!     

How about you? Did you have a teacher who made a real difference for you? We'd love to hear about it!    

55 thoughts on “Ask-A-Wench: Our Thank You to Teachers”

  1. How nice. I had a teacher in elementary school who read to us every day. I loved that part of the day. I already loved to read at that age, but when he read The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander to us, he opened up a completely new genre to me. Worlds I didn’t know existed were all of a sudden there. Decades later, I’m still reading in all kinds of genres and I still have a soft spot for The Book of Three. 🙂

    Reply
  2. How nice. I had a teacher in elementary school who read to us every day. I loved that part of the day. I already loved to read at that age, but when he read The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander to us, he opened up a completely new genre to me. Worlds I didn’t know existed were all of a sudden there. Decades later, I’m still reading in all kinds of genres and I still have a soft spot for The Book of Three. 🙂

    Reply
  3. How nice. I had a teacher in elementary school who read to us every day. I loved that part of the day. I already loved to read at that age, but when he read The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander to us, he opened up a completely new genre to me. Worlds I didn’t know existed were all of a sudden there. Decades later, I’m still reading in all kinds of genres and I still have a soft spot for The Book of Three. 🙂

    Reply
  4. How nice. I had a teacher in elementary school who read to us every day. I loved that part of the day. I already loved to read at that age, but when he read The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander to us, he opened up a completely new genre to me. Worlds I didn’t know existed were all of a sudden there. Decades later, I’m still reading in all kinds of genres and I still have a soft spot for The Book of Three. 🙂

    Reply
  5. How nice. I had a teacher in elementary school who read to us every day. I loved that part of the day. I already loved to read at that age, but when he read The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander to us, he opened up a completely new genre to me. Worlds I didn’t know existed were all of a sudden there. Decades later, I’m still reading in all kinds of genres and I still have a soft spot for The Book of Three. 🙂

    Reply
  6. What a lovely collection of memories you’ve all shared. Thank you!
    My current favorite teacher is my husband; he’s been teaching math (and sometimes Chemistry, his/our area of graduate study) to groups of homeschoolers for over fifteen years. I know that he is incredibly moved when one of his students thanks him in the present day or ten years later.
    I had a wonderful English teacher in junior high with whom I corresponded for several year. I also had an incredibly vibrant chemistry teacher, MS Schormueller, in 10th grade who is likely the reason I went on to get my doctorate in that area. I also had a wonderful Chemistry professor in college, Professor DeLap, with whom I corresponded for years.

    Reply
  7. What a lovely collection of memories you’ve all shared. Thank you!
    My current favorite teacher is my husband; he’s been teaching math (and sometimes Chemistry, his/our area of graduate study) to groups of homeschoolers for over fifteen years. I know that he is incredibly moved when one of his students thanks him in the present day or ten years later.
    I had a wonderful English teacher in junior high with whom I corresponded for several year. I also had an incredibly vibrant chemistry teacher, MS Schormueller, in 10th grade who is likely the reason I went on to get my doctorate in that area. I also had a wonderful Chemistry professor in college, Professor DeLap, with whom I corresponded for years.

    Reply
  8. What a lovely collection of memories you’ve all shared. Thank you!
    My current favorite teacher is my husband; he’s been teaching math (and sometimes Chemistry, his/our area of graduate study) to groups of homeschoolers for over fifteen years. I know that he is incredibly moved when one of his students thanks him in the present day or ten years later.
    I had a wonderful English teacher in junior high with whom I corresponded for several year. I also had an incredibly vibrant chemistry teacher, MS Schormueller, in 10th grade who is likely the reason I went on to get my doctorate in that area. I also had a wonderful Chemistry professor in college, Professor DeLap, with whom I corresponded for years.

    Reply
  9. What a lovely collection of memories you’ve all shared. Thank you!
    My current favorite teacher is my husband; he’s been teaching math (and sometimes Chemistry, his/our area of graduate study) to groups of homeschoolers for over fifteen years. I know that he is incredibly moved when one of his students thanks him in the present day or ten years later.
    I had a wonderful English teacher in junior high with whom I corresponded for several year. I also had an incredibly vibrant chemistry teacher, MS Schormueller, in 10th grade who is likely the reason I went on to get my doctorate in that area. I also had a wonderful Chemistry professor in college, Professor DeLap, with whom I corresponded for years.

    Reply
  10. What a lovely collection of memories you’ve all shared. Thank you!
    My current favorite teacher is my husband; he’s been teaching math (and sometimes Chemistry, his/our area of graduate study) to groups of homeschoolers for over fifteen years. I know that he is incredibly moved when one of his students thanks him in the present day or ten years later.
    I had a wonderful English teacher in junior high with whom I corresponded for several year. I also had an incredibly vibrant chemistry teacher, MS Schormueller, in 10th grade who is likely the reason I went on to get my doctorate in that area. I also had a wonderful Chemistry professor in college, Professor DeLap, with whom I corresponded for years.

    Reply
  11. When I was in Miss Chatterton’s class in high school English, she stuck us all with an assignment. Maybe she had just heard of science fiction, or maybe space travel was in the news, but we were all tasked to write a short story in which our class (I think in our classroom) traveled through space to the moon. You may imagine the teenage groans. I read just about nothing but science fiction then; the problem for me was not to turn it into a novel nor to be tempted to “borrow” 🙂
    I thought of one of my favorite books, Robert A. Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, in which a bunch of boy scout types and somebody’s techie uncle build their own rocket ship and fly it to the moon, where they find a Nazi base. But it had this one scene in it that had stuck with me, in which one of the boys, Morrie, who was Jewish, had to tell his father that he wanted to go and (he thought) needed his dad’s permission. His father told him that when he said in the bar mitzvah ceremony at 13 “Now I am a man,” his father’s job thereafter was not to command but only to advise, so permission was not the thing – and Morrie grew up a little more. I thought about what would I do if I had to tell my mother than I wanted to go to the moon. How would I handle that? How would she take it? What might she say or do? And so the story got written. I turned it in and forgot about it.
    A few days later some of the stories were read in class, but mine wasn’t among them. I thought they were pretty dopey stuff. I thought maybe I didn’t understand that it was supposed to be a joke and so my story was no good. But that wasn’t it at all.
    After class Miss Chatterton called me aside and told me that my story was very original (I put that down to her not being a science fiction fan) and so far above 12th grade level writing that she couldn’t compare it to the others. She got me an English Award at graduation and I think she put in a word for me so that I got a state scholarship for tuition & fees (cheap then but we didn’t even have that much) – and that’s how I got into university.
    What she really did for me though was make me feel like I was somebody. By the time I figured that out she was gone from my school, so I never got to thank her, but I never forgot her either.

    Reply
  12. When I was in Miss Chatterton’s class in high school English, she stuck us all with an assignment. Maybe she had just heard of science fiction, or maybe space travel was in the news, but we were all tasked to write a short story in which our class (I think in our classroom) traveled through space to the moon. You may imagine the teenage groans. I read just about nothing but science fiction then; the problem for me was not to turn it into a novel nor to be tempted to “borrow” 🙂
    I thought of one of my favorite books, Robert A. Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, in which a bunch of boy scout types and somebody’s techie uncle build their own rocket ship and fly it to the moon, where they find a Nazi base. But it had this one scene in it that had stuck with me, in which one of the boys, Morrie, who was Jewish, had to tell his father that he wanted to go and (he thought) needed his dad’s permission. His father told him that when he said in the bar mitzvah ceremony at 13 “Now I am a man,” his father’s job thereafter was not to command but only to advise, so permission was not the thing – and Morrie grew up a little more. I thought about what would I do if I had to tell my mother than I wanted to go to the moon. How would I handle that? How would she take it? What might she say or do? And so the story got written. I turned it in and forgot about it.
    A few days later some of the stories were read in class, but mine wasn’t among them. I thought they were pretty dopey stuff. I thought maybe I didn’t understand that it was supposed to be a joke and so my story was no good. But that wasn’t it at all.
    After class Miss Chatterton called me aside and told me that my story was very original (I put that down to her not being a science fiction fan) and so far above 12th grade level writing that she couldn’t compare it to the others. She got me an English Award at graduation and I think she put in a word for me so that I got a state scholarship for tuition & fees (cheap then but we didn’t even have that much) – and that’s how I got into university.
    What she really did for me though was make me feel like I was somebody. By the time I figured that out she was gone from my school, so I never got to thank her, but I never forgot her either.

    Reply
  13. When I was in Miss Chatterton’s class in high school English, she stuck us all with an assignment. Maybe she had just heard of science fiction, or maybe space travel was in the news, but we were all tasked to write a short story in which our class (I think in our classroom) traveled through space to the moon. You may imagine the teenage groans. I read just about nothing but science fiction then; the problem for me was not to turn it into a novel nor to be tempted to “borrow” 🙂
    I thought of one of my favorite books, Robert A. Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, in which a bunch of boy scout types and somebody’s techie uncle build their own rocket ship and fly it to the moon, where they find a Nazi base. But it had this one scene in it that had stuck with me, in which one of the boys, Morrie, who was Jewish, had to tell his father that he wanted to go and (he thought) needed his dad’s permission. His father told him that when he said in the bar mitzvah ceremony at 13 “Now I am a man,” his father’s job thereafter was not to command but only to advise, so permission was not the thing – and Morrie grew up a little more. I thought about what would I do if I had to tell my mother than I wanted to go to the moon. How would I handle that? How would she take it? What might she say or do? And so the story got written. I turned it in and forgot about it.
    A few days later some of the stories were read in class, but mine wasn’t among them. I thought they were pretty dopey stuff. I thought maybe I didn’t understand that it was supposed to be a joke and so my story was no good. But that wasn’t it at all.
    After class Miss Chatterton called me aside and told me that my story was very original (I put that down to her not being a science fiction fan) and so far above 12th grade level writing that she couldn’t compare it to the others. She got me an English Award at graduation and I think she put in a word for me so that I got a state scholarship for tuition & fees (cheap then but we didn’t even have that much) – and that’s how I got into university.
    What she really did for me though was make me feel like I was somebody. By the time I figured that out she was gone from my school, so I never got to thank her, but I never forgot her either.

    Reply
  14. When I was in Miss Chatterton’s class in high school English, she stuck us all with an assignment. Maybe she had just heard of science fiction, or maybe space travel was in the news, but we were all tasked to write a short story in which our class (I think in our classroom) traveled through space to the moon. You may imagine the teenage groans. I read just about nothing but science fiction then; the problem for me was not to turn it into a novel nor to be tempted to “borrow” 🙂
    I thought of one of my favorite books, Robert A. Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, in which a bunch of boy scout types and somebody’s techie uncle build their own rocket ship and fly it to the moon, where they find a Nazi base. But it had this one scene in it that had stuck with me, in which one of the boys, Morrie, who was Jewish, had to tell his father that he wanted to go and (he thought) needed his dad’s permission. His father told him that when he said in the bar mitzvah ceremony at 13 “Now I am a man,” his father’s job thereafter was not to command but only to advise, so permission was not the thing – and Morrie grew up a little more. I thought about what would I do if I had to tell my mother than I wanted to go to the moon. How would I handle that? How would she take it? What might she say or do? And so the story got written. I turned it in and forgot about it.
    A few days later some of the stories were read in class, but mine wasn’t among them. I thought they were pretty dopey stuff. I thought maybe I didn’t understand that it was supposed to be a joke and so my story was no good. But that wasn’t it at all.
    After class Miss Chatterton called me aside and told me that my story was very original (I put that down to her not being a science fiction fan) and so far above 12th grade level writing that she couldn’t compare it to the others. She got me an English Award at graduation and I think she put in a word for me so that I got a state scholarship for tuition & fees (cheap then but we didn’t even have that much) – and that’s how I got into university.
    What she really did for me though was make me feel like I was somebody. By the time I figured that out she was gone from my school, so I never got to thank her, but I never forgot her either.

    Reply
  15. When I was in Miss Chatterton’s class in high school English, she stuck us all with an assignment. Maybe she had just heard of science fiction, or maybe space travel was in the news, but we were all tasked to write a short story in which our class (I think in our classroom) traveled through space to the moon. You may imagine the teenage groans. I read just about nothing but science fiction then; the problem for me was not to turn it into a novel nor to be tempted to “borrow” 🙂
    I thought of one of my favorite books, Robert A. Heinlein’s Rocket Ship Galileo, in which a bunch of boy scout types and somebody’s techie uncle build their own rocket ship and fly it to the moon, where they find a Nazi base. But it had this one scene in it that had stuck with me, in which one of the boys, Morrie, who was Jewish, had to tell his father that he wanted to go and (he thought) needed his dad’s permission. His father told him that when he said in the bar mitzvah ceremony at 13 “Now I am a man,” his father’s job thereafter was not to command but only to advise, so permission was not the thing – and Morrie grew up a little more. I thought about what would I do if I had to tell my mother than I wanted to go to the moon. How would I handle that? How would she take it? What might she say or do? And so the story got written. I turned it in and forgot about it.
    A few days later some of the stories were read in class, but mine wasn’t among them. I thought they were pretty dopey stuff. I thought maybe I didn’t understand that it was supposed to be a joke and so my story was no good. But that wasn’t it at all.
    After class Miss Chatterton called me aside and told me that my story was very original (I put that down to her not being a science fiction fan) and so far above 12th grade level writing that she couldn’t compare it to the others. She got me an English Award at graduation and I think she put in a word for me so that I got a state scholarship for tuition & fees (cheap then but we didn’t even have that much) – and that’s how I got into university.
    What she really did for me though was make me feel like I was somebody. By the time I figured that out she was gone from my school, so I never got to thank her, but I never forgot her either.

    Reply
  16. What a wonderful story, Janice — and what a quiet heroine Miss Chatterton was. I think tht’s the fate of so many teachers — to do things that make a huge difference to some pupil’s life, and never know how they turned out in the end. So many teachers will never be forgotten by someone — or maybe many somenes — and yet they’ll never know it.

    Reply
  17. What a wonderful story, Janice — and what a quiet heroine Miss Chatterton was. I think tht’s the fate of so many teachers — to do things that make a huge difference to some pupil’s life, and never know how they turned out in the end. So many teachers will never be forgotten by someone — or maybe many somenes — and yet they’ll never know it.

    Reply
  18. What a wonderful story, Janice — and what a quiet heroine Miss Chatterton was. I think tht’s the fate of so many teachers — to do things that make a huge difference to some pupil’s life, and never know how they turned out in the end. So many teachers will never be forgotten by someone — or maybe many somenes — and yet they’ll never know it.

    Reply
  19. What a wonderful story, Janice — and what a quiet heroine Miss Chatterton was. I think tht’s the fate of so many teachers — to do things that make a huge difference to some pupil’s life, and never know how they turned out in the end. So many teachers will never be forgotten by someone — or maybe many somenes — and yet they’ll never know it.

    Reply
  20. What a wonderful story, Janice — and what a quiet heroine Miss Chatterton was. I think tht’s the fate of so many teachers — to do things that make a huge difference to some pupil’s life, and never know how they turned out in the end. So many teachers will never be forgotten by someone — or maybe many somenes — and yet they’ll never know it.

    Reply
  21. Misti, in grade 5 (elementary school) our teacher ended most days with an ongoing story — perhaps 20 minutes or half an hour of a book read aloud. For many of the kids in my small country school, it was an eye-opener– that books could be exciting and even hold us breathless.
    Many years later, as a teacher of literacy to adults, I did much the same thing — the aim being to show my students how much fun reading could be, that it wasn’t just a hard slog.

    Reply
  22. Misti, in grade 5 (elementary school) our teacher ended most days with an ongoing story — perhaps 20 minutes or half an hour of a book read aloud. For many of the kids in my small country school, it was an eye-opener– that books could be exciting and even hold us breathless.
    Many years later, as a teacher of literacy to adults, I did much the same thing — the aim being to show my students how much fun reading could be, that it wasn’t just a hard slog.

    Reply
  23. Misti, in grade 5 (elementary school) our teacher ended most days with an ongoing story — perhaps 20 minutes or half an hour of a book read aloud. For many of the kids in my small country school, it was an eye-opener– that books could be exciting and even hold us breathless.
    Many years later, as a teacher of literacy to adults, I did much the same thing — the aim being to show my students how much fun reading could be, that it wasn’t just a hard slog.

    Reply
  24. Misti, in grade 5 (elementary school) our teacher ended most days with an ongoing story — perhaps 20 minutes or half an hour of a book read aloud. For many of the kids in my small country school, it was an eye-opener– that books could be exciting and even hold us breathless.
    Many years later, as a teacher of literacy to adults, I did much the same thing — the aim being to show my students how much fun reading could be, that it wasn’t just a hard slog.

    Reply
  25. Misti, in grade 5 (elementary school) our teacher ended most days with an ongoing story — perhaps 20 minutes or half an hour of a book read aloud. For many of the kids in my small country school, it was an eye-opener– that books could be exciting and even hold us breathless.
    Many years later, as a teacher of literacy to adults, I did much the same thing — the aim being to show my students how much fun reading could be, that it wasn’t just a hard slog.

    Reply
  26. I’m also a writer, or aspiring as they say. I am also a teacher, a profession I sort of fell into and can’t say that I still fully love it.
    But, one thing I do still love is my extra curricular writing club I run. We focus on writing dramaturgy, but I have several students who you would not ever guess were great creative thinkers, until you read their writing. I hope in a few years at least one will remember me fondly and as an inspiration.
    My own English teachers were great, and my drama teachers, but I really didn’t think I could do it myself. Still not quite sure, lol. But the authors I read inspire me (especially you Anne Gracie).

    Reply
  27. I’m also a writer, or aspiring as they say. I am also a teacher, a profession I sort of fell into and can’t say that I still fully love it.
    But, one thing I do still love is my extra curricular writing club I run. We focus on writing dramaturgy, but I have several students who you would not ever guess were great creative thinkers, until you read their writing. I hope in a few years at least one will remember me fondly and as an inspiration.
    My own English teachers were great, and my drama teachers, but I really didn’t think I could do it myself. Still not quite sure, lol. But the authors I read inspire me (especially you Anne Gracie).

    Reply
  28. I’m also a writer, or aspiring as they say. I am also a teacher, a profession I sort of fell into and can’t say that I still fully love it.
    But, one thing I do still love is my extra curricular writing club I run. We focus on writing dramaturgy, but I have several students who you would not ever guess were great creative thinkers, until you read their writing. I hope in a few years at least one will remember me fondly and as an inspiration.
    My own English teachers were great, and my drama teachers, but I really didn’t think I could do it myself. Still not quite sure, lol. But the authors I read inspire me (especially you Anne Gracie).

    Reply
  29. I’m also a writer, or aspiring as they say. I am also a teacher, a profession I sort of fell into and can’t say that I still fully love it.
    But, one thing I do still love is my extra curricular writing club I run. We focus on writing dramaturgy, but I have several students who you would not ever guess were great creative thinkers, until you read their writing. I hope in a few years at least one will remember me fondly and as an inspiration.
    My own English teachers were great, and my drama teachers, but I really didn’t think I could do it myself. Still not quite sure, lol. But the authors I read inspire me (especially you Anne Gracie).

    Reply
  30. I’m also a writer, or aspiring as they say. I am also a teacher, a profession I sort of fell into and can’t say that I still fully love it.
    But, one thing I do still love is my extra curricular writing club I run. We focus on writing dramaturgy, but I have several students who you would not ever guess were great creative thinkers, until you read their writing. I hope in a few years at least one will remember me fondly and as an inspiration.
    My own English teachers were great, and my drama teachers, but I really didn’t think I could do it myself. Still not quite sure, lol. But the authors I read inspire me (especially you Anne Gracie).

    Reply
  31. In Kindergarten I had Miss Purdy. She was beautiful and she liked me. That was a big deal to me. She bought me a book. It was partly because I could read and I was the only one in the class who could read. It was a story about a kitten who got caught in the rain.
    In high school, I had Mrs Enlow for both junior and senior English. She encouraged me. Senior year, I came in second in a city wide writing contest. I got $25.00 and I got to take my parents and my teacher to dinner at a nice hotel. That was one of the most wonderful things to me, because I got to thank her for all her encouragement.
    I had several teachers who were kind to me. But, these two women made me feel as though I were valued. And that meant everything to me.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  32. In Kindergarten I had Miss Purdy. She was beautiful and she liked me. That was a big deal to me. She bought me a book. It was partly because I could read and I was the only one in the class who could read. It was a story about a kitten who got caught in the rain.
    In high school, I had Mrs Enlow for both junior and senior English. She encouraged me. Senior year, I came in second in a city wide writing contest. I got $25.00 and I got to take my parents and my teacher to dinner at a nice hotel. That was one of the most wonderful things to me, because I got to thank her for all her encouragement.
    I had several teachers who were kind to me. But, these two women made me feel as though I were valued. And that meant everything to me.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  33. In Kindergarten I had Miss Purdy. She was beautiful and she liked me. That was a big deal to me. She bought me a book. It was partly because I could read and I was the only one in the class who could read. It was a story about a kitten who got caught in the rain.
    In high school, I had Mrs Enlow for both junior and senior English. She encouraged me. Senior year, I came in second in a city wide writing contest. I got $25.00 and I got to take my parents and my teacher to dinner at a nice hotel. That was one of the most wonderful things to me, because I got to thank her for all her encouragement.
    I had several teachers who were kind to me. But, these two women made me feel as though I were valued. And that meant everything to me.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  34. In Kindergarten I had Miss Purdy. She was beautiful and she liked me. That was a big deal to me. She bought me a book. It was partly because I could read and I was the only one in the class who could read. It was a story about a kitten who got caught in the rain.
    In high school, I had Mrs Enlow for both junior and senior English. She encouraged me. Senior year, I came in second in a city wide writing contest. I got $25.00 and I got to take my parents and my teacher to dinner at a nice hotel. That was one of the most wonderful things to me, because I got to thank her for all her encouragement.
    I had several teachers who were kind to me. But, these two women made me feel as though I were valued. And that meant everything to me.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  35. In Kindergarten I had Miss Purdy. She was beautiful and she liked me. That was a big deal to me. She bought me a book. It was partly because I could read and I was the only one in the class who could read. It was a story about a kitten who got caught in the rain.
    In high school, I had Mrs Enlow for both junior and senior English. She encouraged me. Senior year, I came in second in a city wide writing contest. I got $25.00 and I got to take my parents and my teacher to dinner at a nice hotel. That was one of the most wonderful things to me, because I got to thank her for all her encouragement.
    I had several teachers who were kind to me. But, these two women made me feel as though I were valued. And that meant everything to me.
    Hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

    Reply
  36. My teachers were a mixed bag, but mostly good. I can identify wild birds and plants because of my 3rd grade teachers who had a bird feeder on the window, and took us for walks in the woods behind the school. My 5th grade teacher encouraged my interest in science and gave me a fossilized rock which I still have. Then there was the awful Home Economics teacher who completely put me off sewing, although she could not destroy my love of cooking. And the teacher who was annoyed when she began to teach multiplication, because I already knew the multiplication tables by heart, since my grandmother had drilled me in them(and memorization was apparently the wrong teaching method, although it served me well!)

    Reply
  37. My teachers were a mixed bag, but mostly good. I can identify wild birds and plants because of my 3rd grade teachers who had a bird feeder on the window, and took us for walks in the woods behind the school. My 5th grade teacher encouraged my interest in science and gave me a fossilized rock which I still have. Then there was the awful Home Economics teacher who completely put me off sewing, although she could not destroy my love of cooking. And the teacher who was annoyed when she began to teach multiplication, because I already knew the multiplication tables by heart, since my grandmother had drilled me in them(and memorization was apparently the wrong teaching method, although it served me well!)

    Reply
  38. My teachers were a mixed bag, but mostly good. I can identify wild birds and plants because of my 3rd grade teachers who had a bird feeder on the window, and took us for walks in the woods behind the school. My 5th grade teacher encouraged my interest in science and gave me a fossilized rock which I still have. Then there was the awful Home Economics teacher who completely put me off sewing, although she could not destroy my love of cooking. And the teacher who was annoyed when she began to teach multiplication, because I already knew the multiplication tables by heart, since my grandmother had drilled me in them(and memorization was apparently the wrong teaching method, although it served me well!)

    Reply
  39. My teachers were a mixed bag, but mostly good. I can identify wild birds and plants because of my 3rd grade teachers who had a bird feeder on the window, and took us for walks in the woods behind the school. My 5th grade teacher encouraged my interest in science and gave me a fossilized rock which I still have. Then there was the awful Home Economics teacher who completely put me off sewing, although she could not destroy my love of cooking. And the teacher who was annoyed when she began to teach multiplication, because I already knew the multiplication tables by heart, since my grandmother had drilled me in them(and memorization was apparently the wrong teaching method, although it served me well!)

    Reply
  40. My teachers were a mixed bag, but mostly good. I can identify wild birds and plants because of my 3rd grade teachers who had a bird feeder on the window, and took us for walks in the woods behind the school. My 5th grade teacher encouraged my interest in science and gave me a fossilized rock which I still have. Then there was the awful Home Economics teacher who completely put me off sewing, although she could not destroy my love of cooking. And the teacher who was annoyed when she began to teach multiplication, because I already knew the multiplication tables by heart, since my grandmother had drilled me in them(and memorization was apparently the wrong teaching method, although it served me well!)

    Reply
  41. How lovely of you to say so, Julia — thank you. Just keep writing — and reading — because I firmly believe that it’s the best way to get better. But there are also lots of excellent on-line articles and workshops that can inspire and teach you about writing. I just attended one today. *g*
    Your extra-curricular writing club sounds wonderful. And I agree — it’s so true that you can’t tell a person’s imagination but how they seem on the outside. I’m sure your students will appreciate you and the writing club, and maybe years from now, they’ll realize what a gift you were to them.

    Reply
  42. How lovely of you to say so, Julia — thank you. Just keep writing — and reading — because I firmly believe that it’s the best way to get better. But there are also lots of excellent on-line articles and workshops that can inspire and teach you about writing. I just attended one today. *g*
    Your extra-curricular writing club sounds wonderful. And I agree — it’s so true that you can’t tell a person’s imagination but how they seem on the outside. I’m sure your students will appreciate you and the writing club, and maybe years from now, they’ll realize what a gift you were to them.

    Reply
  43. How lovely of you to say so, Julia — thank you. Just keep writing — and reading — because I firmly believe that it’s the best way to get better. But there are also lots of excellent on-line articles and workshops that can inspire and teach you about writing. I just attended one today. *g*
    Your extra-curricular writing club sounds wonderful. And I agree — it’s so true that you can’t tell a person’s imagination but how they seem on the outside. I’m sure your students will appreciate you and the writing club, and maybe years from now, they’ll realize what a gift you were to them.

    Reply
  44. How lovely of you to say so, Julia — thank you. Just keep writing — and reading — because I firmly believe that it’s the best way to get better. But there are also lots of excellent on-line articles and workshops that can inspire and teach you about writing. I just attended one today. *g*
    Your extra-curricular writing club sounds wonderful. And I agree — it’s so true that you can’t tell a person’s imagination but how they seem on the outside. I’m sure your students will appreciate you and the writing club, and maybe years from now, they’ll realize what a gift you were to them.

    Reply
  45. How lovely of you to say so, Julia — thank you. Just keep writing — and reading — because I firmly believe that it’s the best way to get better. But there are also lots of excellent on-line articles and workshops that can inspire and teach you about writing. I just attended one today. *g*
    Your extra-curricular writing club sounds wonderful. And I agree — it’s so true that you can’t tell a person’s imagination but how they seem on the outside. I’m sure your students will appreciate you and the writing club, and maybe years from now, they’ll realize what a gift you were to them.

    Reply

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