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Thursday, February 08, 2007

To Say Goodbye...

is very sad.

Any regular visitor of my site knows that I'm a little nutty about writing. I've always been a voracious reader. But, I've not always loved the act of writing. In fact, while I loved to read... I would shudder at the thought of an English class: commas, semicolons, subordinate clauses, diagrams, past present participles, adverbs, adjectives, find the metaphor, what's the simile here... blah, blah, blah. I hated it. Because I was smart and could read faster and comprehend more than my other classmates I always advanced and received high grades. But - grammar and mechanics did NOT come naturally to me. In fact, I still struggle with them and it's one of my weaknesses that I have to monitor while I'm working on a manuscript.

I hated English...

until my senior year of high school.

I was placed in AP English with Mrs. Noland. Curly short hair topped a cherubic face. Her dresses often made me think of the older gingham ones, and she always had a pin of some kind on her chest. From her tutelage I developed a passion for the written word. I didn't have to be an expert to enjoy it. English could be fun. Many times I felt the lightbulb brighten above my head. In my senior year I was convinced that my calling was in education. I wanted to be a high school English teacher - just like her.

One of my old classmates just emailed me. Mrs. Nolan lost a battle with cancer and passed away the day before yesterday. I have thought of her often over the years. She was the teacher that did not just teach my mind... she taught my soul.

I wanted to share part of a letter she wrote for me when I was applying to college. She wrote:

"...I realized that Erica was an excellent student of literature, an astute reader, and a very sensitive human being. She is excited about learning. She admired some authors we studied and gave profound reasons for the ones she did not like. She particularly respected those authors whose ideas supported the dignity of the human spirit. She is a tenacious student, who refines an idea until she is comfortable with it, not merely until it earns a grade...

Perhaps Erica's ability to lead and to work so well with people is an outgrowth of sincere compassion for others fostered by her own circumstances. Perhaps she is simply as gifted with people as with ideas and academics..."

That letter touched me. I graduated from high school in 1995 and I've kept her letter because it meant so much to me. I know that letter not only got me accepted into several colleges, but it also helped me score some great scholarships. :)

I never mastered the skill of poetry, so even though my heart wants to write a suitable verse of poetic form to properly due her justice... I just can't bring the words together. So let me borrow some from Robert Frost

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

For all of the teachers who try to enrich the lives of our youth, thank you. You do make a difference...

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Blogger Lara said...

that was so touching, and inspiring for me, as i'm training as a high school english teacher. i can only hope someday a student is affected by me the way you were affected by mrs. noland. beautiful post.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Awwww...I am so sorry. Sending hugs your way.

This was so toughing, reaching for a tissue.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Awesome, Rash. I hope our children are as touched by their teachers as you were by this one.

Happy Friday!

10:12 AM  
Blogger December Quinn said...

I'm so sorry tp hear this. I searched for my old creative writing teacher when I sold my first shorts, but she's not at the school anymore and her name is so common I haven't even tried Google...I'd love for her to know I've actually made sales. (I don't kid myself that I'm in the running for a Pulitzer or anything, but I've made it up the first couple of rungs on a very tall ladder.)

Teachers can make such a difference...I'm sure wherever she is she's pleased you remember her. Did she have any family, I bet they would love to hear from you.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Joy T. said...

Sending you hugs from here. It sounds like she was a wonderful teacher who touched your heart. How lucky you are to have those memories.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

What a beautiful and touching post and tribute both to Mrs. Nolan and teachers everywhere who are making a difference in children's lives...

9:44 AM  

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