Teacher Appreciation Day

large_thanksThanks to Robin Wasserman, whose fantastic blog post clued me in that today is Teacher Appreciation Day! Goooooooo teachers!

Like Robin, I had some amazing teachers in my life who supported me in my love of books (except for Sister Nancy, who tried to get me to stop reading at lunchtime in the grammar school cafeteria. Apparently, she wanted me to “socialize” more. Whatevs!) and of learning in general. So, with thanks:

To Mr. Beete and Mr. Gadson of Port Chester Middle School, for making history come alive for me in those awkward pre-teen years. I still know a ridiculous amount of strange and obscure facts about the US Presidents.

To Sister Margaret and Sister Rose Agnes of the late, lamented Academy of the Resurrection, who let me turn in poems about horses, scenes about the characters in other, better stores (fan fiction for an A!), and introduced me to thinking critically about books in English class. It wasn’t enough to just read — we had to THINK.

At the University of Delaware, to Bernie Kaplan for a creative writing workshop that not only improved my writing, but helped me learn to give better criticism to others. Likewise, to my first college-level English teacher, then grad student Devon Miller-Duggan, who taught a class on popular fiction and its literary antecedents, and assigned me to read Ursula K. LeGuin, Dashiell Hammett, and Sandra Brown as the heirs to Mary Shelley, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charlotte Bronte. In her class, I learned that reading popular fiction didn’t just have to be for fun, brain off, but could be meaningful on many levels. And to my thesis advisor, Dr. Michael Rewa, who taught an undergraduate class in Arthurian literature and gave me the spark of inspiration for my first complete YA novel, long since shopped around, self-published for friends and family, and most appropriately shelved. Nonetheless, without his historical dive into centuries-old records for the truth behind the myth, my image of Arthur would be utterly different — and less for it.

Which teachers inspired you? And why?

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