Great English teachers helped to shape my life

James Costa’s My View, “Opening minds is teacher’s true reward,” brought back so many memories of three English teachers of mine. Without them, I may not have been a writer. I remember one of my first English teachers marching around the room, singing the verb conjugations, “To be, been, am, is, are, was, were, will, shall; to have, has, had; to do, does, did; could, would, should; can, may, might, ought.” I still remember it.

When I was in eighth grade in the first middle school in Buffalo, my English teacher asked me to be the editor of the new newspaper that was just beginning. I loved writing, so I said yes. When I excitedly told my homeroom teacher, he said I should not be the editor; a boy should be and I could be a helper. It was 1953. Thankfully, my teachers and my mother stood up for me and I became the first editor of the Voice of 37.

In high school, I had the most incredible, creative English teacher. Each day when we came into class, she would have a word or phrase on the blackboard. It was our daily assignment, for the first 10 minutes, to write whatever came into our minds or imagination without concern about grammar or spelling. I looked forward every day to that assignment.

I have continued writing. I have written many articles, published two books and for the past nine years have been a monthly columnist for the After 50 newspaper. I am so grateful to all of the English teachers who open their students’ minds to creativity and possibilities.

Carol Wolf