My High School English teacher passed away last night. She flew from a body that was sick and broken into the arms of Jesus.
Today, I have been watching as past classmates of mine have left notes of remembering and grief on Facebook. And it has been sweet to remember.
Of all the wonderful teachers I had during my many years at ICS (Intermountain Christian School) in Salt Lake, Mrs. Janice Meadows is the one I remember the most. Oh sure, I can remember Mr Benson teaching chemistry or editing the school yearbook with Mr. Gutman or even trying to pay attention in AP Calculus with Ms. Schaeffer. But Mrs. Meadows. . .well, she impacted my life in so many ways.
First of all, I can still see how her classroom was set up--with all the desks facing the chalkboard, her desk in the back and her wonderful bookshelf full of books just waiting to be read. I spent much time in front of those bookshelves trying to decide what book to read next. I can see her sitting at her desk while we all tried to figure out how to cut out all our "it is" and "there was" from our essays. I remember the 5 step revision process and I can still see being handed back an essay that I thought was pretty good that was literally covered with red ink.
She helped me to fall in love with classic literature, diagramming sentences, and the well-chosen word. She got me my first real teaching job tutoring 2 twins in grammar over summer vacation. (Man, I love grammar!) Through her classes I read Beowulf, Les Miserables, hordes of English literature, and even some American literature. One Friday she told us our next book was "A Prayer for Owen Meaney." I went to the bookstore that night and bought it. Over the weekend I devoured it. On Monday morning she announced a different book because a parent had complained about questionable content. I was very disappointed and a little confused.
In her classes and through her teaching I learned that I love to write, to express thoughts, ideas, and emotions with the written word, that I love story. She helped me discover the path that I am currently traveling.
I can still hear her voice and see her red marks as I write today. I cringe with every "there was" that I write because I know it is lazy, boring writing. And because of this one sweet woman, I will strive to do better.
Thank you Mrs. Meadows, for you inspired me and countless others to do our best, to not settle for lazy, uninspired words.