So even if you aren’t a big nightly news watcher (like me, shame shame), it’s pretty hard to miss the crap-tastic crappiness that is going on in our state of Wisconsin because of our pinhead governor.  I won’t get political on you in this blog (although you could be fairly certain of my feelings on his budget bill by my use of crap-tastic language seen above), but with all the hoopla surrounding the bill and what it means for our education system and teachers, it reminded me how incredibly influential teachers can be in shaping little minds.

I had a teacher like this.  A teacher who paved the foundation for my love of writing. 

It was my 2nd grade teacher.  Her first year teaching.  I had already been writing all kinds of little stories since kindergarten (cue the overachiever eyeroll).  Lots involving an impressive introduction of, like, eighteen characters, followed by a fuzzy plot and then, Tah-Dah!  You’ve reached the end of my story where all eighteen characters live happily ever after!  Balloons!  Butterflies!  Unicorn farts for everyone!

(Look for my famous novel, “The Witch and the Bear,” which made the 1991 New York Times Best Seller list.  Critics call the story lacking in any conflict whatsoever, but I prefer to focus on the deep emotional struggle the bear went through when the witch turned him into a fish.  1st grade wasn’t exactly a prime time to draw from any extreme emotional experiences, I guess.)

Anyhow, this teacher, who we’ll call Mrs. K, recognized my love to put pencil to paper.  (And my ability to come up with such thrilling work as described above, obviously.)  So she made me my very own “Writing Folder.”  I remember like it was yesterday.  It was a plain blue folder, on which she had written “Katie’s Writing Folder” in big letters across the front.  More than the actual memory, though, I remember the way I felt at the exact moment she pulled me aside after class to give the folder to me.  It was indescribable.

After a rough 1st grade with a teacher who didn’t have the patience to put up with my stubborn, do-my-own-thing attitude, here was a teacher who recognized my interests and was encouraging me to fill that folder.  By the end of that year, you couldn’t close it.  The confidence she gave me had a lasting toll and accompanied me to writing workshops, competitions and finally to college where I decided to throw all “practical major” nonsense out the window and follow my heart with the English major.  I was the kid in that 2nd grade class that suddenly beamed with excitement when we’d seperate into little groups for a story competition.   

So to all the Mrs. K’s out there who handed their students a folder or a telescope.  Or encouraged their kids to pick up the wiggly worm or showed them the perfect form for a layup.  You deserve much more credit than our society often gives you.  You’ve paved millions of little paths in this world.

Everyone has a teacher who has changed his or her world for the better.  Who was yours?

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