On October 5, 2015, take the time to celebrate World Teachers’ Day by remembering the educators who made a difference in your life through their passion for teaching. Growing up in Melbourne, FL, USA, I was fortunate to have several teachers that touched my life in a special way. Mrs. Maddox helped me learn in second grade how to stop squirming in the classroom and to talk only when it was appropriate. Before that, my report card noted I was a little unruly.
In third grade, Mrs. McKinney helped me learn cursive writing. I felt proud and capable of something so adult-like. I just didn’t know yet what the skill could involve and how computers might put it in danger of existence. My irrepressible curiosity about the Periodic Table of Elements was made fun by Mr. Schweitzer, but I never really figured out how it mattered in my life. Sorry, Mr. Schweitzer. I’m sure it somehow does.
But the person that stands out the most for me to honor for World Teachers’ Day was Mrs. Barbara Bixby, my tenth grade English teacher. While I attended Melbourne High School, it became famous for its “non-graded program.” She and many other lucky teachers had the opportunity to work within a non-traditional school system that helped many of us soar in different ways. The principal, Dr. B. Frank Brown, was responsible for creating this creative learning environment which was featured in Time Magazine for” innovative and visionary educational concepts to benefit students of all abilities.”
Ms. Bixby decided I was ready for her senior level English Literature class when I was only a sophomore. A few other tenth graders were included, but most were junior and senior students. It was a classroom of lively discussion and, as they say, today, “critical thinking.”
Most important to me at that moment in life was the opportunity to write about whatever subject I chose to explore. We made our choice with the hope, in the end, it contained something fascinating for a class discussion. It was then that I began to dream of writing a story someday about my parents’ intriguing lives – two souls that found each other in China in 1940 during the chaotic period of WWII. They instantly fell in love and married in Peking, now Beijing. It would be eight more years before I was born in Florida and many more until I wrote that story.
To this day, some fifty years later, I remember the sound of Ms. Bixby’s passionate advice after reviewing my paper. “You can do a much better job than this. Practice, just like in sports, will make you a better writer.” She was right and it was a long journey. Five decades later, as I now hold the title of “award-winning author,” I’m forever thankful to this patient and encouraging teacher. I will never forget her.
Here’s another blog worth reading about this topic: