It was 9th grade. I was ecstatic, when I looked at the curriculum and saw ‘Creative Writing’, printed there in bold letters.I signed up, before I even realized what I was doing. I went home that day and hugged my mother as tightly as I could. I was shaking with excitement.
“What’s up?” She pulled back and looked at me. She knew I was nervous, going to the big high school, how I was uneasy, meeting so many new people in my Freshman year. She thought I was upset about it, that my first day had gone poorly, she thought I was crying. Instead, I told her that the High School had a writing class, that I had signed up, that I needed a special notebook and pen to write with. She laughed, told me to go clean myself up and that I’d better neaten my room. She bought both pen and paper on her next shopping trip, though, then watched my beaming face as she handed each of them to me. I’m sure my expression was priceless.
My teacher’s name was Mrs. Schaeffer. She was from Shrewsbury,Mass. I loved her! She was so interested, totally invested in every single student that walked through her doors for class. She worked hard to get our creative juices flowing, using imaginative homework assignments and encouraging us to think outside of the box with our writing.
Sometimes, we would have to work with one single word, like ‘red’ and come up with an essay based on that. Other times, she would give us a sentence or a theme to build on. She would tell us how long she wanted the piece to be and we were all willing to give it our best shot. I remember standing in front of the class, reading what I wrote, trying to gage from my classmate’s expressions, if it was spot-on or needed more work.
My mom would sit with me, drinking a cup of hours-old coffee and taking drags of her Kent 100’s, while I labored over the homework. An avid reader and writer herself, mom was a wonderful sounding board. I loved getting off of the bus, changing into play clothes and then sitting for awhile at the dining room table, papers and dictionary, pen and paper strewn over the entire area. Sometimes, she would cook dinner in the next room and I would call to her through the open door that led to the kitchen, bouncing an idea off of her, or asking her advice on how I should approach the lesson.
I think everyone has one teacher that supports them during these informative years of school. I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world, with mom at home and a mentor at school. I waited anxiously for my grades on any paper turned in to Mrs. Schaeffer. I was mesmerized with the way she wrote her A’s on the top corner of the page. I always read her lengthy comments on what she liked about my writing and what I could work on for the next essay assignment, which was, most certainly, right around the corner. I took her feedback to heart and believe I grew because I was so open to her constructive criticism each time.
I tried to find her, after high school was a distant memory. I wanted to thank her, wanted to tell her she was one of the most influential women in my life. She was an amazing teacher and even though she tried hard to be objective in teaching our class, I like to think she had a soft spot for me. It sure helped me want to be a better writer, believing she had taken me under her wing for that semester. I hope she knew, somehow, how I appreciated her guidance in my life.
If you had a teacher who helped you grow, who was it? If you could talk to them, what would you say?