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Who encouraged you as a kid? […] Who encouraged your writing when you were a kid?
Then he gave his answer,
For me, it was a teacher named Judy Barnes. Back in 1991, Mrs. Barnes read a story I wrote in front of the whole class, and I can still feel the glow from that moment today. Her single act of encouragement changed the course of my life.
I got to thinking about this, as one does, and I’m pleased to name not one, but two remarkable people (both teachers, like Baty’s). The latter would not have left the impression he did without the groundwork laid by the former.
When I was in grade seven, I fell head over heels in love with Ancient Egypt. Previous dreams of being a veterinarian
if when I grew up dashed, I aspired to a career in Archaeology with a focus on ancient civilizations, Egypt specifically. I knew all of the major deities, obsessed over the architecture and scribbled hieroglyphics on my notebooks, like so many adolescent hearts and games of MASH. My grade seven teacher, Mr. Nieman, helped build a fire within me. He gave me the gift of encouragement, clearly finding joy that he helped to inspire this passion in me.
Fast forward a few years. In grade eleven, I walked into my first English class to greet a new (to me) teacher (my grade ten English teacher, who was outstanding, retired at the end of that year. She inspired a love of Animal Farm and I will forever be grateful for her and her sass), Mr. Haines.
Haines will go down as my favourite teacher. Ever. Full stop. He treated me like an adult who had thoughts, feelings and opinions that mattered. He saw those old embers of passion in me when I would write essays and stories for his classes (I took English 12, and Literature 12 with him as well. I basically stalked him. In a completely non-Lolita way), gave them a bit of fuel, and encouraged them to burst into flame again.
Mr. Haines was, if I recall correctly, the first person who made me believe that “writer” was a viable career option. That people actually got paid to write. That Stephen King wasn’t just an author, he was also a person. He was also the first person who made me believe that maybe I could, with a little bit of work and polish, do that, too. He was among the first people who really, truly believed in me and let me know that he believed in me.
Hats off, gentlemen. You made a difference. Thank you. Thank you for inspiring me, supporting me and encouraging me to believe in my BAMF self.
(Image found on rags for riches)
What about you? Who encouraged you in any (all) of your endeavors?