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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Critique/Review (for writers) (05/06/10)

TITLE: Recollections of a Writer
By Elizabeth Cain


“What might you be writing so diligently over there, Tommy?” Mrs. Hamilton asked suddenly. Tommy looked up, trying to casually hide his paper with his arm.
“Nothing, I, uh… was just writing a few notes.”
His teacher eyed him carefully as she walked over to his desk, “We are going over a few examples of how to tell gerunds apart from infinitives. I think you’d do better to listen to this and follow along.” She looked down at Tommy’s paper, “May I see it?”
Tommy swallowed, handing her the sheet of paper he’d been writing on. He winced as he watched his teacher’s reaction as she read the paper Tommy and his friend, Austin, had been passing back and forth to each other during class. He could tell she was hurt by the comments they’d made about her lectures, and he was certain the doodle he’d drawn of her wasn’t flattering to her. She took a deep breath before telling him to pay attention to the remainder of class, and then she walked back to her desk. Tommy watched her lay the paper on her desk, hoping she’d not call him up after class.


When the bell rang forty minutes later, Tommy quickly gathered his things together and made his way toward the door.
“Mr. Turner, please come up here.”
Tommy froze, his heart sinking. He turned slowly, wishing he could escape with the other students who were pushing their way past him. Tommy approached her desk nervously, his heart pounding in his chest.
Mrs. Hamilton waited until the students had all left and the door had closed before she calmly said, "I would appreciate it if you would pay attention during my lectures. I don’t teach these lessons because I enjoy hearing my own voice; I do it because I want this class to know how to use grammar properly.” She tapped the paper with her index finger, “Your writing could really benefit from my lectures.” She handed Tommy the paper, giving him a bright smile. “I must say, your writing style is quite promising, despite its grammatical errors. You’ve always struck me as having a creative mind; the kind that if applied to more constructive uses, could lead to the path of a renowned writer.” Her smile broadened as she nodded at the door. “I won’t keep you any longer. You may go.”


Tommy blinked, his mind snapping back to the present. To think that because of that day he now held in his hands his third, newly published book. Tommy smiled as he leafed through the pages. Who could have guessed how profound an affect that encounter with teacher that day would have on his life? He closed the book and placed it on his writer’s desk, standing it next to his other two books. He leaned back to gaze at his collection. His latest book was by far the best written, but the first still had a higher place in his heart. Tommy smiled as he pulled out his first piece of writing. He opened it to the dedication page. His smile broadening as he read that small sentence again: This book is dedicated my ninth grade English teacher, Mrs. Hamilton, whose loving critique has encouraged me to be the writer I am today.

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This article has been read 482 times
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Sara Harricharan 05/13/10
I'm glad Mrs. Hamilton didn't yell at Tommy for a childish moment in his young life. Because of her kind words and a choice to look the other direction, good came out of it.

What a inspiring reminder--and I'm glad to see a positive portrayal of an english teacher! Great job
AnneRene' Capp05/13/10
Another great story with a happy ending...makes me a happy camper :)...This was so inspirational!

As a newbie around here, want to encourage you to check out Jan and Ann's free writing classes in the forums under, what else..."Writing". They have given me a wealth of information for advancing my writing skills. A must for all new writers. :)
Karen Macor05/14/10
What a good reminder for all of us to encourage others. One never knows what a kind word will accomplish. Thanks for writing this.
Mildred Sheldon05/16/10
Thank you for a very interesting article and how teachers can help or hurt a child by their actions.
Dusti (Bramlage) Zarse05/21/10
What a touching story! A teacher can make such a difference in a child’s life!

A few writing suggestions— If you hit Enter twice between your paragraphs, the stories are easier to read. “Affect” should be “effect.” Most of the time, “affect” is the verb and “effect” is the noun. So, when you “affect” something, you bring about an “effect.” You might already know that and just put the wrong word by mistake; I’ve been known to do that! Also, just a suggestion, but watch for unnecessary words or repetitive words. When you say that Austin and Tommy had been passing a paper back and forth, you don’t need to say “to each other.” That’s implied by the fact they’re passing it back and forth. Again, “the doodle he’d drawn of her wasn’t flattering” would be just fine and “to her” is basically unnecessary. And when Tommy gathers his things, “together” is somewhat redundant. Someone remarked on repetitive words in my writing some time ago; it’s really helped me improve, so I figured I’d pass it along. Overall, I loved this story. So touching!
Margaret Kearley 06/01/10
I like this - what an excellent teacher! This well written story really highlights the enormous value of encouragement and care in how we 'mould' and teach the young. Well done.