UBC Day 9: Learning the Right Lessons

Today is what many people call throwback Thursday, a day that gives people an opportunity to share old pictures or memories about what they used to be like back then compared to now.

I don’t really have pictures of that time, but I do have a lot of memories. I would like to share some of the most special memories regarding my love of reading.

I can freely admit that I wasn’t the best student in high school. It had nothing to do with aptitude and everything to do with the fact that I procrastinated and was allergic to homework. It didn’t hold my interest and I was bored with doing what I termed busy work. My grades were certainly a reflection of that much to the chagrin and exasperation of my teachers.

Some of my greatest memories involve my American history and government teacher. Let’s be clear, I didn’t like those subjects on the whole, but she was special and made the boring into something that was easy to understand and lively. She made certain that we understood the material, not by making us parrot them back to her, but by allowing us to have free-flowing discussion. But this is not the only reason why I remember this instructor.

I remember her fondly because she instilled an even deeper love of reading than I already developed. At the end of the week, she would read a chapter of a story to us if we finished our work on time. She introduced me to Vanyel, a hero from Mercedes Lackey novels. She would record those chapters on cassettes and several of the residential students would listen to adventures that perhaps the library was not willing to send to us. Those books were an open letter to found family even if I was too young to understand such tropes. Those books talked about equality and identity in such a way that I could grasp onto those ideals with both hands. They laid the foundation for a love of fantasy that has never left me.

The other thing that this wonderful teacher did was read her own original works to the class. It takes bravery to read your original writing to a group of students, but I clung to every word, hoping that I, too, would one day be able to pen beautiful phrases the way that she could. I wanted to create rich and amazing worlds just like she did, and I appreciate that she trusted us those parts of herself.

She also made certain that we had opportunities to attend a local Renaissance festival every year; a tradition that I sorely missed after graduation but tried to continue to do throughout my adult life. She gave her students experiences that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Recently, I have been able to reconnect with my history and government teacher, but I don’t know if she realizes the impact that she had in my life.

So, thank you. I wasn’t your best student by a longshot, but you taught me lessons that I will never forget. You encouraged me to learn during a time when I had some really broken parts of me that needed care. I didn’t understand who I was or who I could be and struggled with my identity and where I fit. I listened to your stories and wanted to write as well as you. I wanted to read more than what was available in our small, out-of-date library at the school. Because of you, I was able to find my wings. I developed and refined my reading tastes, had the opportunity to review books for a large and popular book blog, and have gone on to do some really special projects concerning reading. Because of you, Mercedes Lackey became one of my formative authors and I learned all about filk music. I discovered many other fantasy authors and worlds to become lost in. Because of you, I have a deep and abiding love for world-building and have come to appreciate history and government in many forms, from fiction to the rich tapestry that makes up our world.

Thank you for trusting us with your work and for being one of the best teachers that I have ever been privileged enough to have in my life. You made what I thought of as a boring subject in to something that was lively and exciting, while fostering a love of reading and teaching me how to be brave and take risks.

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