When I was in high school, I had an English teacher that changed my life.
If I am going to be completely truthful, you should know that I was terrified of her. Terrified of her. Not because she was mean, but because she demanded respect and didn’t put up with less than one’s best. No one messed with Mrs. Brown. Because of the tight reign she had on her class, it was a room where learning could take place, and did.
She taught me to love Shakespeare. She taught me tools for writing that have helped me formulate thoughts and then spit them out on paper on a daily basis. She taught me to do my best work, for anything less wasn’t worth the effort. She helped prepare me for college, and for that I’ll always be thankful.
Unlike most teachers who stuck with multiple choice tests, Mrs. Brown gave essay tests. I found that I excelled at tests that don’t test particular factoids, rather whole thoughts and concepts and their application within their context. I remember writing my little hand off during test periods and hoping that whatever I put on the paper would please Mrs. Brown.
One day I came to class excited and yet dreading getting my essay test back. I was sure I had done a good job, yet I was scared that maybe I didn’t meet her expectations. I was nervous that I would get my test back and be disappointed. I remember sitting in class waiting, waiting, waiting to get my paper back. When the time came to pass out the graded essays, Mrs. Brown said the words that would change my life forever. Simple words, but completely meaningful and hopeful to me.
She said, “I wish all of you could write the way Angie writes“. For the first time in my life I felt like there was something that I could do well, and that made me incredibly happy. The praise gave me the courage to write more often and on different subjects and to explore the written word. I felt like her words gave me permission to overcome my fear of writing failure and at least try to organize sentences and paragraphs; thoughts and feelings into one cohesive whole. At a time when I didn’t feel confidence in anything, her words gave me a sense of confidence is something.
I’ll never forget Mrs. Brown.