I wasn’t a big fan of school before fourth grade, thanks in part to a string of teachers who derived a disturbing amount of joy from nitpicking and embarrassing students—even the quiet, painfully shy ones like me. Both my kindergarten and my second-grade teacher told me that my handwriting was terrible. (Who even has good handwriting at those ages, anyway?) My first-grade teacher liked to remind me loudly that her classroom wasn’t “a beauty parlor” anytime I’d try to free my waist-length hair from the nails on my chair or ask a friend to help me fix my braids. So I entered the fourth grade prepared to battle with my assumed nemesis, Mrs. Teron. Word on the playground was that she was the oldest, most crotchety teacher around. But as it turns out, she was one of the nicest, most inspiring teachers I’ve ever had.
Mrs. Teron took a firm stance on late homework assignments and talking during lectures, which fueled her poor playground reputation. But she also worked hard to present her lessons in a comprehensive, engaging manner, and she encouraged students to recognize and improve upon their talents. In my case, she deemed me a future writer before I even knew that was a career. I’d never given any thought to writing prior to her influence; I just knew that I liked it. Mrs. Teron went out of her way to tell me that writing was something I should pursue further. She even kept a few of my poems in a folder because, according to her, they’d be worth something someday. (Yes, I wrote poetry at nine years old. And yes, my poems were surely god-awful, but Mrs. Teron made me feel like they were brilliant.)
She wasn’t quite right about my bestselling-author status, but she was spot on with her prediction that I would find success and happiness as a writer. If it hadn’t been for her encouragement, I might never have realized that. I lost track of Mrs. Teron after elementary school, but I’ve no doubt that she went on to inspire many other students to follow their dreams. Here’s hoping that she’s out there following her own. (And here’s really hoping that she threw out those poems at some point.)
Read the next Teacher Knows Best story: Hate the Habit? Nun-sense!
Six Things Teachers Want Parents to Know
10 Ways to Appreciate a Teacher