Because a teacher has a starring role in my new book project I wanted to give a shout out to some very special teachers in my past. I might have found my way to writing without them, but I am sure they had a hand in helping me find the path I was meant to walk.

So turn the clock back to when my name was Susan Webb and . . .

At Glenbrook Middle School (Concord California) I had two English teachers who unlocked the door for me; Vicki Hackett (now at Northgate high school) and Joyce Welch (I wish I knew where she was). They read my words and told me I had talent. They encouraged me to keep writing. I became the editor of the school paper. I wrote plays for the class to perform. I stayed after school just to sit in that old school desk in an environment that celebrated words, my words, and wrote and wrote and wrote. It was there, I am sure, that my writer self was born.

At Ygnacio Valley High School (the last year before it split off into Northgate) I had Robert Sillonis for creative writing. Our classroom was out in a portable at the edge of the school and it felt like a world apart from all the other classes. He encouraged creativity in ways that I had never experienced. Kids brought things into class, things they were good at, and did demonstrations. I brought in my roller skates and tried to show them what I did at the rink every day after school. We kept a portfolio of our writing long before they were fashionable in the classroom and we gave ourselves grades on our work at the end of the quarter. Mr. Sillonis said that he rarely had to lower a grade a student gave themself but often had to raise it. Mr. Sillonis was the first one to tell me to dig deep and write the truth but it would be years before I was a brave enough writer to actually do so. Whenever someone comments on me writing the truth, I think about him. After a year at Ygnacio Valley I went back to Mt. Diablo High School (also in Concord, California for anyone keeping track) and had Chuck Foster who continued the push that Mr. Sillonis had started. From him I learned the importance of playing with words and trying to not take myself too seriously. (I would love to find out where he is too. I think I heard he moved to Washington when he retired but that’s all I know.)

So thank you to the teachers who have encouraged me over the years. I appreciate the extra effort you made to help me believe in my right to write.

What teachers have mattered to you or helped shape your writing self?