Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Tale of Two Teachers

A few weeks ago, the girls over at Pub(lishing) Crawl wrote a post to pay tribute and give thanks to the teachers and librarians who had an impact on their reading and writing lives. There are many teachers who influenced what I read (everything from Asian literature to Greek mythology) and the librarians who were nice enough to help me find books to match my interests (which was definitely primarily mythology for a time). There are two people, however, who deserve to be celebrated for how they changed my life.

The Giving Tree book cover
One of my favorite books ever!

The first person that comes to mind is my third grade teacher, Mrs. Mihevc (and I hope I spelled that correctly!).

Even back in the third grade, I was already a voracious reader. I read anything that I could get my hands on (and it's a miracle I never stumbled on books for older audiences at that point), and I read it quick. My level of comprehension was way above my grade level, and instead of limiting me to what options were available for my class, Mrs. Mihevc went out of her way to let me read stuff that was a little more advanced. When it was discovered that I was going to move away to the Philippines at the end of the school year, Mrs. Mihevc threw me a surprise party one afternoon and her gift (which I still have in my library) was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Sir JB & I

Sir JB with me and some of my HS friends!

The second person that immediately popped into my mind is my high school English/creative writing/drama teacher and friend, Mr. Jess Bermudez.

I had heard about him way before I had him as a teacher, mostly because he was one of those teachers touted as fun and easy to get along with. And it was the best thing ever when I finally got the chance to have him as a teacher. He made learning about literature and poetry so entertaining with his creative ideas (like watching films, or acting things out, or fun creative projects like movies, etc). And he also got me started with taking writing as something serious and not just for fun or fan fiction with his creative writing class! He challenged my creativity and my discipline, and was very encouraging when it came to my work. I loved getting to be under his tutelage and learning about literature, grammar, creative writing and even drama. Up until today, he and I are still in touch and still friends, even though he's all the way in London and I in New York City.

I'm grateful that these two wonderful teachers were a part of my life, as they forever changed the way I looked at reading and writing. So, feel free to tell me in the comments - did a teacher or librarian influence your writing and your reading? Or was it someone else in your life - a family member, a friend, a mentor?

16 comments:

  1. For me, it was a family member. My aunt Coleen was the catalyst that fueled my love of reading. We (my brother and I) stayed at her house about two times a month - having no kids of her own, she considered us her kids. We had a routine - we'd have dinner, listen to ridiculously bad jokes from my late uncle, clean up and head to the bookstore. She was never one of those people who told me I HAD to stay in the kid's section when I was a kid. I was allowed to roam around and choose whatever I wanted. So I was reading Iris Johansen's forensic sculptor series at the ripe age of 10 and attempting GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire series LONG before I should have. All of the midnight releases for the Harry Potter books? My aunt Coleen was the woman wearing a complete witchy outfit, but making it look classy and at one in the morning while we stood in line. She was also the one who had to turn of the lights for me because I was up reading long into the night.

    Anyway, loved hearing your story. Having people in your life that build the foundation for a life long love, there's nothing better. And a teacher, somebody who goes above and beyond their job to inspire you? That is even more outstanding. : )

    (Sorry for the novel)

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    1. I loved hearing your story about your aunt, so no need to apologize! I'm glad you had your aunt encourage your reading. In my family, it's my mom who really did that for me consistently, although now she likes to tease me that I've ALWAYS got my head in a book!

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  2. Great post. I have a lot of people who fueled my love of reading but maybe two or three in particular (all teachers!). I may have to do similar type of post on my blog.

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    1. If you do get around to doing a similar post, feel free to tweet a link to me! I'd definitely want to check it out :)

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  3. This is a great post! Although I had great teachers (for the most part) I can't say any one really influenced me in terms of reading. Same goes for librarians, although I did really like my high school librarian, Mrs. Ballard.

    But my mother definitely helped create a love of reading in me. She never pushed me, and she let me read whatever I wanted. She always made sure there were lots of books in the house, and read to me often, even when I could read on my own.

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    1. My mom was actually my #1 encourager when it came to reading, and nowadays, my writing. She basically supplied me with books all my life, going out of her way to find the ones I'd really enjoy. In fact, like I said in my post on Monday, she totally got me started on Harry Potter!

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  4. This is a wonderful post, Alexa! I really can't think of a teacher or anyone who inspired my reading ... I think I just needed an escape. Of course, I'm so thankful that a lot of my friends are such varied readers that I find myself drawn to lots of different genres. Also, the people at my local library are awesome and really make it a welcome place to visit.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I love that you had a local library. When I moved to the Philippines, that was one thing that was sorely lacking. I had my school library, but there was no such thing as a neighborhood library. Good thing my mom totally supported my reading habit!

      Reading was also an escape from reality for me. Whenever I felt down and out, or restless (as I often feel), I just grabbed a book and lost myself in the world in it.

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  5. I think it's brilliant that you're still in touch with your teacher. Very few from my past stick out to me, though I suppose I was never a fan of English in school (being told what to read and when to read it never did work well for me!). Thanks for sharing your experince with both here. :)

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    1. I didn't mind too much being told what to read, because I often ended up enjoying it. I got lucky with that particular teacher - he was a lot of fun, and very easy to talk to!

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  6. I love this post. My high school GCSE English teacher definitely influenced me in terms of my reading and helping build confidence in myself. I just wish I'd listened to him and continued to take English at A-Level instead of deciding I was done with it when I was 16.

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    1. I'm glad that he encouraged you to read! It's alright about English - there's a good reason for that decision, and it hasn't affected your reading habits anyway ;)

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  7. Aww, this is such a great post! My husband is an English teacher, and I hope that some of his students are as touched by his passion for reading as you were by your teachers :)

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    1. I'm sure your husband is a wonderful English teacher, especially if he's passionate about reading. That passion always translates well :)

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  8. I absolutely love this post. And I love that you kept the book from your teacher in 3rd grade! I taught abroad for about 3 years and I hope I was able to leave an imprint on even one student. :)

    -Maggie

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    1. Thanks Maggie! I do have that book still, and will probably always keep it in my library. I'm sure that you had an impact on your students - teachers usually do :)

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