Among my greatest blessings in life is to have known Mrs. R. Words can in no way adequately express my deep gratitude for her influence and support in my life during some exceedingly turbulent times. She touched, shaped and deepened my life on so very many levels, and I truly believe that I am the woman I am today in large part because of her influence on me.
I was fortunate enough to have Mrs. R. as both my junior and senior English teacher at the Princess Academy for Young Girls. She was also my senior project advisor who not only encouraged me to follow my heart when my heart started to change, thus resulting in my most difficult conversation ever with my father that went something like "I know we already have paid a deposit to that one college but I need something different...", but also cried with me over children I couldn't save... and I knew, deep down, she wasn't really crying about my stories, about my unsaveable kids, but about her own "I can't save them" stories. It was, perhaps, the first time I realized that there was shared emotion in my writing and that I had the power to connect with people on an emotional level simply by writing about my own experiences.
As a teacher, Mrs. R. created a riduiculously fun learning environment where we could share our thoughts and writing with one another, gaining confidence in our ideas and trust in our perceptions. It was here that I learned how to really discuss a book and analyze my own writing as well as that of others. The lively classroom discussions and activities inspired me to read and write more and left me excited to do homework for the next day's class. Yes, really. Why? Because our homework was simply to journal on a daily basis and write one short story per week. How lucky I was to attend a school with an emphasis not only on technical writing, but also on creative writing. To this day short stories are my "thing"... and I credit Mrs. R. with that.
Mrs. R. taught me that the best writing comes from that which we know... and that journaling could and would be the springboard for good writing, the kind of writing that comes from the soul and leaves the reader wanting more. The kind of writing that ignites a fire in both author and audience and connects them on both a conscious and subconcious level.
I remember Mrs. R's warm smile and dry sense of humor that always seemed to put things in perspective for me. And I will never, ever forget the day she pulled me aside and said, "I read your story and I laughed. I cried. I wanted more. You have a gift and you must share it with the world."
I think she would be proud to know that I have tried to share my musings with the world. I wish I could share it more. I wish I knew how. My writing still comes from a place of raw emotion and I will always remember that it was Mrs. R. who first read my writing without simply judging the content of it but, rather, by reacting to it. Thank you for believing in me and for inspiring me, Mrs. R. You will be greatly missed.