I honestly don’t remember my 9th or 10th grade English teachers but Mrs. Remmel and Mrs. Egan were angels in the classroom for my junior and senior years. I didn’t care much about school or working hard the first couple years of high school so when it came time to take some “extra” classes, I wasn’t eligible. Lesson learned…always do my best because you don’t know what might be lying around the next corner. Mrs. Egan taught an advanced English course of some type that I couldn’t take because my grades weren’t good enough. I was so bummed as I watched my friends complete their assignments. Their homework excited me yet “I wasn’t smart enough to do it.”
One day I shared with Mrs. Egan how much I wished I could have taken her English class. Instead of lecturing me on what I could have done differently to have changed things, she turned and walked back into her room. Within a minute she was back at the door with a book in her hand. She handed it to me and said, “This is the book we are reading if you would like to read it with us.” She even gave me one of their homework assignments. I don’t remember the book yet I remember the feeling of hope and excitement. It wasn’t because I was doing the “advanced” English so much as it was Mrs. Egan believed in me, just like Mrs. Emerson had in first grade. I had lost sight somewhere in the past eleven years. Mrs. Egan empowered me to be the best reader and writer I could…a gift of a lifetime.
Through the Oswego Reading Council I had the honor and privilege to present this year’s writing contest award certificates and ribbons out to our winners. Over 800 pre-school through adult entrants devoted time to write about a special person in their life. The top three winners were invited and so were their parents and teachers. Some read on stage with no help while others leaned on their teachers for a little support. It was like watching the magnolia tree blossom before my eyes. With the first preschooler’s writing masterpiece through the last adult’s reading ~ it was evident I was surrounded by wonderful writers…blossoming into this beautiful magnolia tree.
Now, many years later as I work in a kindergarten classroom I wonder…would my perception and love of writing be different if my first grade teacher hadn’t praised me or emphasized its importance? I could have been like the petals blown to the ground ~ full of beauty and talent yet never reaching my full potential.
Thankfully my teachers recognized something special in me and highlighted it ~ what positive gift could you highlight in a child’s life today? You might never know the impact and role you play in one’s life…make it a positive one.