Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all of our wonderful teachers.
Thank you for all that you do to keep our students at the core of our school, our community, and our practice every single day!
This week has reminded me of a short essay I wrote 14 years ago about my most influential teacher and mentor, Julia Davis. Luck would have it that I found it after a quick search in an old email account. Thank you to Julia and to all of our teachers that continue to shape our lives and the lives of our children:
Out of the many spiral notebooks I filled during my four years at Whitman College only two remain today—the two that I scribbled in during classes taught by Julia Davis. The only Whitman professor without a PhD, Julia did something that no degree guarantees: She surprised me.
“Meghan,” she said, “I want to see you in my office after class.” After nervously waiting out the class period, I took a seat. Embarrassment turned into horror as Julia proceeded to read my paper aloud. “Please stop,” I begged. “I just can’t take this.” It wasn’t that it was a bad paper that made me cringe; rather, I had trouble listening because I heard my own voice. By listening to my emotions surrounding an experience where something was ‘not quite right,’ my paper was a re-shaping of myself. My teary-eyed reaction showed me just how much my own words meant to me. Julia simply finished reading the paper and handed it back without a grade. As I left the room, she said, “Meghan, you took a risk in writing this. Keep going with it. Keep risking.”
Today, thinking back to this specific experience and the larger context of our student/teacher relationship shows me just how long-lasting a single teacher’s influence may be. It also reminds me of the importance of having mentors even as an adult learner. Thanks to my many teachers and mentors, writing as risking continues to be one of my favorite ways to learn.