When I was in high school, I was always asked the cliche question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The answer was immediate, “An author! But I’ll probably teach too.”
It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the idea of teaching, but it always came secondary to my desire to write. I started teaching college classes in the Spring of 2018, after I received my Master’s degree in English Literature, and realized that I not only enjoyed teaching, I loved it. There was nothing better than helping college students realize that they did not have to hate English even if they had hated it their entire high school experience. In fact, they could even, Heaven forbid, LIKE it!
Then, in the Fall of 2019, I got my wish. I was hired as a full-time Middle School English teacher at a private Christian School where I could help students become better readers and better writers while sharing my love of Christ. This past year, as crazy as it was, taught me that teaching no longer comes second to my desire to write.
I learned that my dreams of becoming a well-established author and my focus on inspiring the next generation to love writing and reading could work together hand-in-hand.
In my English class this year, I shared with my students the process of writing Agency in the Hunger Games, the revision process, the publishing process, and I even got to bring a copy of my book to show my class. I taught them about perserverance and endurance. I told them that at their age, I had sat in that very same classroom, in those VERY same desks, writing in one of my dozens of notebooks while people around me told me that I was wasting my time. I would never be published. The field was too hard to break through. I told them that I had not listened to those voices, but that I had followed my dream and I had worked hard for it. I told them that the dreams they had now did not have to be impossiblilities.
I never realized how much my words meant to them until about a month ago.
A month after online learning ended, one of my students emailed me to let me know that my personal story had inspired him. He had always wanted to write, but never felt good enough being so young and so inexperienced. This summer, he was challenging himself to write his first full-length novel and it was all because I had encouraged him to do so. He told me that he was writing his book in honor of me. It was a simple email, only a few lines long, but it meant the world to me.
I realized then that as an author and as a teacher, it is my duty to inspire the next generation of writers and educators.
What good is experience if we are not willing to share it with others? What good is failure if we can not use it to better ourselves? What use is success if we do not share that success with others to inspire them to follow after their dreams as well?