When I was an undergrad in English education, one of the required courses was a quarter class of diagramming. Does that date me or what? Professor Todd did his best to drill poetry into our resistant heads. Robert Zoellner scared us to death and did our GPA’s no good. But I made it through the minefield of my major, and truly I had some fine teachers.
When I entered CSU in 1960, the old adage was still in place — you go to college to get an M.R.S., but my mom was quite savvy, and she insisted I get a teaching degree because “you can always teach.” And teach I did. I also accomplished the M.R.S. thing, which meant that I moved to a farm near a small town in eastern Colorado. Karma worked for me; the teacher who had taught English for forty years retired that year, and I guess no one else had applied. I needed no letters of recommendation; I’m not sure they even looked at my transcript; they needed a warm body.
My first year I taught seniors, many of whom were only three years younger than I. We learned together and had some great times in doing so. I am still in touch with many of those students. Teaching taught me to love literature and to write on a level I never experienced in school, so I tried to encourage my students to find their voices in the way they thought about literature and in the way they did their writing.
Being in a small community with only one or two other English colleagues, I reached out to the Colorado Language Arts Society and found much enrichment in my association with people like Louann Reid and Bill McBride. But it was in my students that that I found my greatest challenges and rewards. My life has been so much richer for having taken my mother’s advice, even if I did take it for all the wrong reasons.
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