I will never forget my seventh grade Language Arts teacher, Mr. Somers. We had to write a paper, as we usually do in Language Arts. Maybe that’s why it was my favorite class. Let’s see—seventh grade, I was probably thirteen. I remember this writing. When I received the assignment back, it had red ink on it, but the red ink said, “Great imagination. You should be a writer!” I remember smiling. Mr. Somers liked my story.
Anyway, I remember writing the surprise ending. He liked it! I never looked at him the same anymore. No longer was he a stern teacher who demanded we work our fingers to the bone. No longer was he the tormenter who made us read those crazy books that were written by people who were born before my parents. Now, I looked at him as my mentor, and each paper I wrote was written for his approval. I began enjoying the books and noticing how authors worked their words. He was the first person who ever acknowledged my dream.
I did go on to be an author. The best part of all this? When I grew up and became a mom I began working in the same elementary school I went to. Our principal had to take a leave of absence and they needed to bring in a replacement. Do I have to tell you who it was? Through the years I knew what Mr. Somers was doing because his name was pretty high up in the ranks by this time. He was called in as acting principal! Did he remember me? Of course not.
We worked together for awhile before I said anything to him. One day I stopped him in the hall and told him about the paper I wrote in his class in seventh grade, and how he left the note in red ink. I told him how he inspired me, and that I was indeed a writer now. I know how he felt. I do. Teachers want to leave a lasting impression on their students. I know this to be true from experience. Yes, Mr. Somers was my first inspiration/mentor to help me realize I was a writer, even at age thirteen. If you ever come across the person who inspired you, please do let them know.
Before I retired, when I’d see a student who wanted to be a writer, I’d smile and tell them I was a published author, and how I used to write when I was a kid. I’d tell them to follow their dream and never give up. I know there are some of my former students who have moved on to high school and are pursuing their dream of being a writer. Maybe one day when I’m older and grayer, one of them will walk up to me and tell me their story. I look forward to that day.
NOTE: It wasn’t long ago that a former student looked me up on Facebook. I met her when she was in the eighth grade. When she found out I had a couple books published, she had a million questions. Stars danced in her eyes, which reminded me of my own dancing stars at her age. She had already been writing for a long time, and I’ve read some of her stories. She’s talented. 🙂 Now, she’s in college, or out by now, and recently told me about a blog she writes and still has the dream of becoming a published author. I’m really proud of her. Cheers to you, Maddie.
Do you have a mentor, or someone who inspired you to pursue the dream of being who you are today? Please leave a comment and tell us about it.