Tuesday, April 23, 2013


     While cleaning out a file cabinet a few weeks ago, I found a story I wrote in eighth grade. It's now a yellowed piece of lined notebook paper headed with the title, 'The Lady or the Tiger?' My teacher, Mrs. Oliver, challenged the class to come up with a story for this first sentence: 'Without the slightest hesitation, the prince went to the door on the right and opened it.'
     My memory of actually writing the story is dim. Looking at the cursive handwriting of my thirteen-year-old self, I can't remember where I was when I wrote it. Was I in class? Sitting at home at my desk? At a table in the library? I have no idea.
      But I do remember the sense of pride I felt when Mrs. Oliver handed back the graded paper. Her comments in red-ink — 'written very well, Dawn!', 'very imaginative ending', and 'super description' —  boosted my confidence At that age, my writing dream was just a tiny spark, very vulnerable to the winds of encouragement and criticism. Luckily, Mrs. Oliver was the kind of teacher who nourished potential as were several other teachers I had during my young writing life. A few teachers like Mrs. Oliver worth mentioning who inspired me are:
  • Ms. Kruckoff, who encouraged me to join the high school newspaper staff my freshman year, for helping me find my niche and developing an interest in my future course of study: journalism;
  • 'Doc' Winger, who taught me to think and write critically about the classics in Rhetoric class even though he was beyond intimidating when he looked at me over the tops of his wire-rimmed glasses;
  • Mrs. Bolen, for my first experience in a creative writing class, for taking us on that field trip to the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago and far away from our comfort zone, for the best creative writing exercise ever;
  • and Dr. White, for providing a creative writing class where I felt nervous yet safe while having my work critiqued for the first time by writers more experienced and skilled than me.
    Was there a teacher who encouraged you early in your creative life?


  1. Great post Dawn thank you! And how fortunate you are to have had such encouraging teachers! I can vaguely remember an English teacher who liked that I could spell properly and encouraged me in my reading and writing.
    Susan Scott's Soul Stuff

    1. An encouraging teacher can make all the difference in a student who shows promise in a subject.

  2. A good teacher is a true gift! I've had a number of them at different stages of my life who were truly encouraging.

    1. That's good to hear! Everyone should have at least one memorable teacher, hopefully more.

  3. I had a 5th grade teacher I will never forget, Mrs. Hurst. She read great books aloud to our class and encouraged us all to write!

  4. Teachers can make such a big difference in our lives! My orchestra teacher in high school was the one who encouraged me to pursue my talent as a musician.

  5. This is such a thoughtful post and one that surely rewards teachers who make a difference in the lives of their students...as yours have done. It's also a reminder to be thankful for those who have guided and encouraged us as students...no matter what age.

    I've had a few, and the one that sticks in my mind was the one who said, "Who knew behind that pretty face there is a brain."

    My Letter 'T'...Only In Texas Towns
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

  6. My fifth grade teacher loved talking books and also brought in a local author to talk to us. That author visit made such an impression on me! So many wonderful teachers in this state!

  7. Sounds like you've had excellent teachers! You're very lucky. I didn't have any particularly good English ones, unfortunately, but my history teacher fired my interest in the subject - he was more like a comedian than a teacher sometimes - and I had a great drama teacher who encouraged my creative side.


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