Mrs. B was my senior AP English teacher back in the last century. She was known far and wide (well, at least around Central High School) as not only a difficult teacher but one without any sense of humor. People please! Who doesn’t have a sense of humor?!?!?! Sarcasm has always been my love language, so I knew early on it was going to be a long year. My ace in the hole was my best friend Lynne who was a killer writer and I knew she’d do what she’d always done- rescue me!
Way back in the dark ages, you spent 90% of AP English writing essays and term papers. Now, I’ve always been a reader but back then no one would confuse me for a writer. I tried really hard to do what I was asked, spending hours writing paper after paper editing them over and over and over. It never failed to elicit a “C”… EVERY SINGLE TIME. I’m not trying to brag but some of those papers were pretty good. Way better than a “C”. So I came up with what I surmised was a GENIUS plan. I would write my paper, Lynne would write hers then we’d exchange papers, recopy them and turn them in. (I know, brilliant right?!?) Well it worked out just like we thought. Lynne received her normal “A+” and I received my normal “C”. But there arose a problem… we couldn’t tell Mrs. B what we’d done because then “F’s” would be had by all!! So my brilliance hit a snag and I realized that I would have to (GULP) talk with Mrs. B in order to find out why in her mind I was nothing more than a “C” student.
There are a lot of things in life I don’t like (mayo, tomatoes, poorly written books) but nothing more than confrontation. However, I knew I deserved better and wanting to get into a good college knew I had to do everything I could to raise my English average as high as possible. So I put on my big girl pants and asked her if we could talk. I’d love to tell you that she saw the light. That after I poured out my heart and soul she declared me to be the next Margaret Mitchell but alas it was not to be. She simply felt I had no talent as a writer and there was nothing I could do to improve.
WHAT??? What kind of teacher tells a student that not only do they have no talent, but no way to get better?? Mrs. B that’s who. But I’ll tell you this, I decided right then and there to prove her wrong. And you know what? As an adult, I think that was her plan all along. She knew me well enough to know that I loved a challenge and I would be determined to prove her wrong. She knew if she suddenly changed her mind and made me a “B” student I’d be content to never get any better, never try any harder and never be anything more than a mediocre writer at best. I’m sure some of you may think of me as less than stellar as a writer but I know that not only have I gotten better, I gained the confidence to find my God given love for writing.
So, Mrs. B, wherever you are now I hope you read this and think to yourself, that you were successful. Successful in helping me find my voice, successful in showing me that confrontation may not always be easy but is often necessary, successful in teaching a young girl that believing in herself is the greatest gift she can receive.
And for that I say, Thank you Mrs. B!!