|Image courtesy of Steve Woods,
As the semester went on, my friends would complain (loudly!) about the assignments--to write stories based on the prompts Mrs. J gave us--but I thought they were fun and not that difficult. After all, all we had to do was tell tales, something I loved and had been doing since I was too young to write. The bonus was that more people would be reading them--not only my parents and Mrs. J but my classmates as well. I was excited to have a bigger audience, even though I knew many of the kids in the class couldn't have been less interested.
Mrs. J was great about writing encouraging comments on my stories, but she also noted areas where I could improve. I appreciated those critiques. I wanted to get better at telling stories, and her advice helped me to do so. During parent-teacher conferences that year, Mrs. J told my mom that she thought I had raw talent, and she urged my parents to support my writing, which they did and still do now, nearly thirty years later.
Near the end of the school year, Mrs. J, who was also the high school art teacher, chose to feature a portfolio of my stories in the school's art show. To my knowledge, that was the first time that writing had been included in the exhibit, and I can't describe how proud I was as people looking at the art would stop at my table and read my stories. Seeing people react to what I had written was a high like no other. That was the day I truly understood the power of words.
Even though I had been telling stories since I was a child, without Mrs. J, I don't know if I would have had the courage to continue. Oh, maybe I would have written a story here or there, perhaps a poem, probably this blog--but I don't know if I would still have the passion for it if it hadn't been for her encouragement and support. She was a magnificent teacher and mentor, and someday when (fingers crossed) I do make it in this business and find myself holding a book contract in my hands, I will make sure to dedicate my story to her.
So tell me, who was your first cheerleader, the person who really made you believe that you could do whatever you wanted to do in life?