This week, a lot of students are returning to school in my neighborhood. I love this time of year. Kids with back packs line up at the end of the street waiting for the yellow limousine to escort them into a house of knowledge. Don’t get me wrong. I would never—ever—go back. Sure, there are no bills and responsibilities, but then there’s the drama and social ridicule part that is just not worth the return. I wouldn’t mind being a student again, though. In fact, if there were a profession where I can learn all day, I would be right there.
Of course, thinking about school causes me to think about teachers. I graduated from college with a teaching degree. I majored in English, but minored in mathematics. Therefore, I teach mathematics. It’s a supply and demand thing. Anyway, when I first stepped foot in the classroom as a student teacher, I was completely unaware of a teacher’s power. As I took my first teaching job, I slowly started to learn. Now, I recognize the huge influence—for better or worse.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you will know I began writing as a result of a teacher. In fact, if I hadn’t had her class in the sixth grade, I often wonder how my life would have turned out. Would I even be writing? I don’t know. I enjoyed a poetry unit in the fourth grade, but that didn’t cause me to write. It’s the questions they form Sci-Fi books over—well, those are probably bigger questions that appeal to a wider audience. Even after the sixth grade, teachers guided me. My seventh grade English teacher would read my short stories and critique them. Knowing now how much work an English teacher has, I wish I had thanked her more. My ninth grade English teacher called me a genius—not true but a nice stroke to the ego. Even today, my history teacher helps me find sources for my research. I truly believe, no matter how much family support I got, I would not have continued if my teachers hadn’t encouraged me. They were the only outside feedback I allowed for myself, so their opinion held more weight.
Stephen King writes about a teacher who rolled a story he wrote up like a newspaper and asked why he wanted to waste his time on such trash. He says that voice stayed with him well into adulthood. Thank goodness it didn’t stop his pursuit.
Teachers have power, even if they don’t want it. Students are developing not only who they are, but also how they view the word. And, unfortunately outside opinions have more worth in a teenage mind. I would not be a writer without teachers, and—while some days I might curse them for helping me discover such a competitive passion—I am forever grateful to them all. So, for all my teacher friends remember: with great power comes great responsibility.