My Teacher, My Talent Scout

 In Inner First Class

Tuesday May 3rd is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Everyone seems to have a horror story or two about a teacher that made them want to run screaming from the classroom, but fortunately we also have stories about amazing teachers that changed our lives.

My third grade teacher, Mrs. Leslie, loved teaching so much that she got permission to teach her final year as a half year before she retired. Unlike some long time teachers that allow the stresses and emotional burdens of the job bog them down, Mrs. Leslie never seemed to have a bad day. Always quick with a smile, I loved her. Her last day “on the job” was a sad one, and I knew I would miss her.

Mrs. Leslie left me with a surprise, though. When we returned to school the first day after she was gone, she had left behind gifts for some of the students – some of her things that she’d used in the classroom but did not need to take home with her. I found a gigantic writing pad on my desk along with a note from Mrs. Leslie that I was a good writer and she hoped that I would continue to write.

I’d never really thought about it like that before, but Mrs. Leslie’s gift was the push I needed. I started writing from then on, filling up the note pad she gave me, and then notebook after notebook after notebook after that, draining pens dry and writing until I thought my sore fingers would fall off.

I was eight years old when she gave me that note pad. Thirty years later I still get a little teary eyed when I think of her. She saw in me a talent that I didn’t even know I had, and was the first person to encourage that in me. I’m sure she has long since made her transition to peace, but if she were around today I would love to give her a copy of my book and tell her she made a real difference in my life.

Phyllis Leslie, you are the teacher I would like to honor on this day!


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