Lisa D. sent me this email:
I was just asked "Who was your favorite teacher?" and I thought, "A ha! Great question!"
She is sooo right. Great question!
I have two. In high school, I had a tough English teacher, Mrs. Meys. She was serious about Beowolf and The Canterbury Tales and all sorts of stuff I had no interest in reading. At the time, I was way more curious about the latest party than the oldest literature.
But then she assigned us a poem. So for once, I actually did my homework and I wrote one. And although I'd probably be horrified if read that poem now, she gave me an "A." That got my attention. I just wasn't an "A" student. So I stopped sleeping and started listening in class. She encouraged me to write and read. And at the end of the year, she gave me an award for effort and achievement. I'd never earned a reward before.
After I published my first story in Seventeen, I went back to my high school and put a copy of the magazine in her mailbox along with a thank you note. She wrote me back, stating that she was retiring that year and the thank you was a wonderful send off and that she would follow my career.
When I got to college, I'd decided to major in writing, but I had NO idea how to write or what being a writer even meant. The first day of my first writing workshop, Andre Dubus III entered the classroom. He was passionate about the craft, excited to dig in and ridiculously attractive. He taught a small group of students about plot, introduced us to some great writers like Susan Minot, showed us how to structure a story, foreshadow, describe without being cliche and ultimately complete our very first short stories. And he made it fun and exciting.
That man made me want to be a writer.
The funny thing is, years later, during an interview, Andre talked about that first workshop and revealed that he had no idea what he was doing either. He had never taught a class before and didn't really have a plan. I think the honesty of it all inspired me.
Teachers are under paid and under appreciated. But they're the most important influences, outside of family, during our formative years. I know that if Mrs. Meys hadn't encouraged me to read and write and if Andre hadn't stirred up a writing storm in that workshop, I wouldn't be who I am today.
So let's give thanks to the most important people in our lives. Who was your favorite teacher?
4 years ago