Aspiring to Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago as the new school year was about to get underway, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow published an essay honoring teachers for their ability to transform lives.

In the piece, Blow recalls the fourth grade teacher who literally took him in hand, wrapping her arm around the nervous young student he was, and letting him know that he was capable and that she was there to guide him along.

child at boardI wasn’t a particularly nervous young student, although I was, as now, always eager to please. So when my fifth grade teacher, Mary Margaret Fulton, noted at the top of something I’d written, “You are a budding journalist!” I couldn’t wait to look up the word “journalist” to find out what it was that she seemed to think I was good at doing. Since I loved to read and write stories, I was thrilled to discover that Mrs. Fulton thought I had the potential to be a professional writer…and set about finding out what I had to do to fulfill the promise she saw in me. And yes, here I sit, many decades later, an experienced professional writer. Now, there were many others along the way, not least of whom were my parents, who encouraged, taught and mentored me–but Mrs. Fulton clearly helped plant the seed with a five-word personal note jotted at the top of a sheet of white lined paper.

Can you recall a significant moment of teacher recognition that likewise nudged you in the right direction? If you’re a teacher, coach or other mentor, do you take time to let individual students know that you recognize a special talent, interest or inclination?  How do you let them know, and what has happened as a result?  I’d like to chronicle a series of real-life teacher inspirations, from the point of view of both teachers and students.  Please share your story, and I’ll be in touch.

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