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We, the staff of Writer’s Relief, want to extend our gratitude to the special people who inspired our love of words. After all, it’s no coincidence we ended up employed at a company that helps writers publish their work. We’ve all long enjoyed passions for reading and writing, thanks to those “teachers” (in the classroom and out) who inspired us along the way.
As a sign of tribute to those who influenced us, we took photos with our thank-you signs and posted them on Facebook. But not all of us were able to express our gratitude on our 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, so we’ve written in more detail here. Without further ado, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” to the following people:
RONNIE: Thanks to the parents and teachers of all my staff members! You’re the reason Writer’s Relief does a great job for our clients! (And thanks to my own mom and dad for spending their last dime on that World Book Encyclopedia!)
HERMINE: Inspired by my teacher reading “Snow-Bound.”
FRANK: My father came from Italy when he was thirteen years old and a trained barber. He loved reading and encouraged us to read by buying a set of classic storybooks and a dictionary for us.
WENDY: Thanks to Mom and Dad for sharing their love of words, especially
JUSTIN: I want to thank Ana Douglas, who was a T.A. at Rutgers, but moved on to teach in Nevada. I was only able to have her for one semester, and surely would’ve taken another class with her again if I had the chance. She opened me up to my favorite period of literature, Modernism. After reading James Joyce, TS Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and DH Lawrence, I never looked back. I also loved being taught by Ann Baynes Coiro, also at Rutgers. She is still there and served as the head of the English graduate program in my time. She was one of the most well-liked professors, and her laid-back style (along with having us read passages of Milton’s Paradise Lost aloud) had everyone tuned in.
JESSICA: LeVar Burton taught me to love books, and that the constant pursuit of knowledge makes the world a better place. #bydhttmwfi
KRISTIN: Thank you to Mr. Sherbine for bringing humor and personality to every lesson, encouraging us to find fun in the learning process. Your creatively written vocabulary tests read more like short stories than fill-in-the-blank exams—and I still use “panacea” and “bereft” in conversation as often as I can. And thank you to Mrs. Twombly for first helping me find my poetic voice and then pushing me out of my comfort zone to ultimately be a better writer. If it weren’t for you, I’d still be rhyming in four-line stanzas.
MARGARET: The person who influenced me most was my mother, who wrote literally millions of notes to friends and relatives, letters to editors, and complaints to corporate CEOs. She was always writing to someone.
PRIYA: Thank you to Sharon Creech, author of Walk Two Moons and Chasing Redbird, the first novels I ever read that really moved me as a kid. Her main characters, Sal Hiddle and Zinny Taylor, were big inspirations to me when I was little. Very cool girls!
TIM: Dad, thank you for encouraging me to look at the world in passionate ways and express it lyrically. Though…can I borrow money? Thanks Bukowski, for teaching me to write my own voice, find attractiveness in the wretched, and comfort in the pains of life. Also, like, a ton of vulgarities when I was younger, so props for that too.
JOANNA: Aside from watching Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood growing up, my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. King, really inspired me to love stories. The entire class would be so interested in the books she selected; we would stay in from recess so she could read to us. Mrs. King helped make me the book lover I am today. (She also was the daughter-in-law of comedian Alan King.)
FRANCESCA: The earliest memories I have are of me sitting on my grandma’s lap and listening to her read. Whether it was Once Upon A Potty, Just Grandma And Me (Little Critter), or People Magazine, I loved reading with Grandma. The pictures were fun and Grandma had a pretty voice. I could listen to her all day.
She’d read with me outside on the porch—the sun tickling my skin and wind blowing my hair. Or on our squeaky couch, wrapped in a blanket she crocheted. She’d even walk across the street with me so we could attend storytime at the library. I LOVED listening to Grandma read; it was our time.
Despite how much my mom (and eventually my teachers) insisted, I wasn’t so interested in doing the reading myself. Reading was hard. I’d rather just listen to Grandma, but she wouldn’t read to me anymore. I had to read to her, and that wasn’t as much fun. But you know, when Mom, Grandma, and Sister were all reading in the TV room, what was a precious cherub like me going to do?
The school suggested stupid “easy reader” books about sports or history. Boring! But they struck gold with the Amelia Bedilia and Mr. Putter And Tabby Series. All throughout grade school I struggled with reading and writing. But R.L. Stein and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes showed me how much fun books could really be. My family and teachers helped me understand that persistence, practice, and patience were key to overcoming any and all obstacles that life throws my way.
So while my fondest memories are listening to my grandma read to me, I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without fantastic teachers, awesome authors, and the support of my family.
DAN: To Stephen King, for being the first to show me that the world of a book can be more vivid than real life: Thank you.
The Reasons I Read:
The Reasons I Write:
William Carlos Williams
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses by Mark Twain
The Reasons I Write Well:
The Art Of Fiction by John Gardner
The Elements Of Style by William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White
MEG: Sister Mary Francis who taught me that studying Latin would give me a greater understanding of the English language.
KRISTE: Thank you to Mrs. Huffman of Lanphier High School! When I had her as my tenth grade English teacher, she was very supportive and encouraging with my creative writing. She would share my stories in other classes, then give me their written feedback. It’s no wonder she won Horace Mann Educator of the Year Award many years later. I could go on and on about this lady!
PAM: I wouldn’t have developed my love of writing without the guidance of two outstanding teachers: my freshman high school English teacher, the late Ms. Wiseman, and my creative writing, journalism, and senior high school English teacher, Mrs. Levin. I’d like to thank both for being such amazing, inspirational women!
Ms. Wiseman’s tough love kept everyone on his/her toes while making English class fun. Her fascination with the English language was a characteristic that separated her teaching methods from other English classes I’ve taken. We weren’t just going through, chapter by chapter, memorizing words and rules verbatim from our textbooks, we understood their origins and why a sentence is structured in a certain way.
Mrs. Levin’s enthusiasm and love of writing shined through every moment of her class and was highly contagious! Her out-of-the box approach gave me the courage to break out of my shell and not be afraid to put my feelings down on paper for all to see, no matter how silly or stupid I thought my words sounded. We studied many great works and made great works of our own both individually and as a class through crazy improv sessions. I wrote what I feel is some of my best work with Mrs. Levin’s guidance. I even used a well-received short story, my creative writing class final exam, for my animation senior thesis project in college!
CHRISTINE: To all those folks who bought me those waterproof bath time books, to the Berenstain Bears who made “time out” bearable, to Le Petit Prince for those wonderful bedtime story sessions, and to my parents for teaching me how to read—oodles of thanks.
SONIA: I just want to say…THANK YOU!
My parents, for always encouraging my creativity and keeping my bookshelves fully stocked.
LeVar Burton, Mr. Rogers, and all the people/monsters of Sesame Street, for making the world of reading fun and colorful.
To Belle from Beauty And The Beast, for making reading glamorous and teaching me that, despite what other people might say, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being well-read.
My kindergarten teacher, Miss Lisa Frankle, and second grade teacher, Ms. Rhonda Levine, for letting me take class time to come up with as many stories as I wanted.
My elementary school librarians, Mrs. Michele Freschi and Mrs. Lisa Ang, for coming up with activities that turned reading from something I had to do into something I LOVED to do.
ALLISON: I have to thank my folks (the librarians) for always supporting reading and Wishbone for both making me want a dog and want to read.
JON: My dad gave me some Robert Crais books to read when I was 14 or so. I devoured them (and finally began to read for pleasure). Mrs. Jones suggested I read Slaughterhouse Five. Kurt Vonnegut is now one of my favorite authors. “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” inspired me to read Lolita. Several different songs turned me on to 1984.
STEVE: Charles Dickens for Great Expectations—the first assigned book I actually read cover to cover for school.