October 5th is World Teacher’s Day. Being the parent of a special needs kid, I understand the value of a good teacher. I know the difference a teacher can make. And as a working mom in and out of college for the last 20 years, I realize the impact teachers have made in my life — personally and academically. When I think about the teachers that have made a significant difference in my life, I realize their lessons have shaped the person I’ve become.
I grew up in a home filled with books. We weren’t rich and my parents weren’t big on reading; my father just happened to work in a book factory and he brought them home. Books were something I took for granted until my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Aldorisio, made us read James and The Giant Peach. She was the first teacher to feed my passion for reading. In tenth grade, Ms. Schwartz assigned the book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, that made me want to write. And it was my college professor — whose name I can’t remember — who introduced me to Junot Diaz’s The Son, the Moon and the Stars — one of the first stories I read by a Latino author.
But it was my creative writing professor, Terrence Cheng, who taught me the greatest lesson. On the first day of class, Cheng announced to a room full of eager writers, “If you want someone to tell you that you’re amazing, show your work to your mother.” His words were harsh but I appreciated his honesty. I didn’t want a professor to tell me that everything I wrote was great; I wanted a professor who could help me get better. He helped me learn to understand and accept constructive criticism. Instead of feeling insulted by a critique, I learned to really listen and apply it to my writing. It’s been more than ten years since I first stepped into Cheng’s creative writing class, but I still hear his voice when I write.
I asked 11 other bloggers to share the greatest lesson they ever learned from a teacher…
From elementary teachers to college professors, teachers are the people in our lives who have the power to make a difference. And their lessons are truly never forgotten.
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.