October 20, 2014
From my librarian mother, I received the gift of reading by age 3. For writing, though – I need to thank my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Flak. Fourth grade really was a magical year for me. By then, I was so far ahead of my peers that I was in my own independent reading group. I discovered National Geographic Magazine and decided I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. And then came the writing assignment. We needed to write a two page story about anything we wanted. While other classmates squirmed in their seats or chewed the ends of their number 2 pencils, I was flabbergasted. We HAD to write a story? About anything? And it only was a 2 page assignment? No boring worksheets, but something from our own imagination? I felt I had just been given a free pass out of jail! I had recently read a book about the Civil War, and imagined what it would have been like to be a little girl watching a battle near her own home. So I wrote about Roberta, a little girl who watched a battle in horror, but then was brave enough to go out afterwards to bring water to the wounded soldiers. It was called “Water Call,” and went way over two pages. But, Mrs. Flak loved it. She read it out loud to the class, and the other fourth grade class, too. Then, she did the most magical thing – she put a huge gold star on it, placed it at the top of the bulletin board, and left it there for the rest of the school year. Wow. What a powerful affirmation that was for me – to be rewarded, not once, but every day, that I was good at something. Should we all be so lucky to feel that kind of encouragement in our daily lives. We are all good at something. Pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments.