I’ve spent the last couple of days in my Work Study for the Creative Writing Department writing thank you notes to high school teachers who’ve had a positive influence on the young writers who have entered into the Creative Writing Major here at SUNY Oswego. There are a lot.
Teachers may or may not realize the affect they have on their students. Negative, as well as positive…
I still remember way back in junior high when I was beginning to find love in writing. I was quiet and extremely shy. I hated having any attention drawn to me — thank God I never had to do any presentations back then.
There was this one English teacher, I’m going to call her Mrs. Hellspawn here (you may see where this is going…), who thought she was god. Seriously. I remember one time the Assistant Principle came in and they were both gloating over how neither of them could do any wrong (yeah right…).
Anyways, we were learning how to write formal letters. You know the ones where you put your address at the top right margin (no name), then the recipient’s address next on the left margin, followed by the recipient’s name…
Well, we were only part way done when class was coming to an end. Which means our names weren’t on them yet (you know, because you don’t put your name on them until you go to sign it). Mrs. Hellspawn wanted us to hand them in. I had a mini anxiety attack, wondering how she would know whom to give them back to the next day. So I quickly scribbled my name at the top.
As she came through, collecting them one by one (I don’t know why she didn’t just have us pass them forward like any normal teacher would…), she caught a glance at mine and proceeded to scream at me, saying I was wrong and that I was going to fail, blah blah blah…
THE WHOLE CLASS WAS NOW LOOKING AT ME.
I slid down in my chair, feeling my face burning fifty shades of red and the sting in my eyes. If I could have melted into the floor, I would have.
I was so humiliated that I not only blamed Mrs. Hellspawn, but also the entirety of English classes. I wanted nothing to do with her class or writing. Ever.
This event was so traumatic to my young self, that it’s burned itself into my memory for all time. I barely remember much else from junior high. This had to have been the year before high school, because I did eventually pick up writing again. I can’t remember how I eased (or crashed) my way back into it, but I did write a story during my high school years.
Needless to say, I’m eternally grateful that I was able to rekindle my love for writing. And I’m also grateful to the many teachers out there who inspire, rather than massacre, young writers.