There was a lovely, thought-provoking article in this morning’s USA Today about thanking the teachers that inspired us.
Like the article’s author, there were several teachers and professors that inspired and mentored me, both academically and personally.
However, there was only one Mrs. Chrytzer.
Madeline Chrytzer was my fourth-grade teacher and undoubtedly the singularly most influential teacher I’ve ever had. Why? It can be summed up in one brief conversation: one afternoon, I walked up to Mrs. Chrytzer’s desk and told her how much I loved books. I can vividly recall how excited and passionate I was about my little declaration, which probably startled Mrs. Chrytzer, being that I was definitely one of her quiet, shy kids who hardly said anything at all. But that day, I couldn’t help myself. I told Mrs. Chrytzer how books and stories were my favorite things in the world.
You know what, Girley? One day, you can write books, too.
(She didn’t call me Girley, but that’s my online moniker. Onwards.)
I CAN WRITE BOOKS??
Of course, you can. You can write the same kind of books that you love.
Many, many years later, I still remember every aspect of that conversation. I remember her kind face, her kind eyes, how she smiled at my shock, how she repeated that, yes, one day I could become an author, too. She was aware of my gigantic imagination, of the books I devoured, of how going to the library was the most exciting part of the day for me. She was simply aware.
Thank you, Mrs. Chrytzer, wherever you are! I love you! Thank you for assuring that wide-eyed 9 year-old girl that she could follow in the footsteps of the same authors that brought so much joy and wonder into her little life. I never question where my genesis as a writer began: it began in your classroom.
*Honorable Mention: Mrs. Kristin Leedom, my 11th grade English teacher. If Mrs. Chrytzer inspired the genesis, Mrs. Leedom gave me a significant tool to put it all together: translating my love of writing into a viable college major (English).