Saturday, August 27, 2016

Teachers Who Helped: Believe in Your Students

Hi, folks, This is the last in my series of Teachers Who Helped.  Of course, I saved the best for last. In 1995, I moved to Kirkland, Washington. A friend of mine, Kathi Appelt, encouraged me that there was a vibrant group of writers in the Seattle area and recommended that I take a class on children's writing at the Bellevue Community College. Kathi said the teacher was considered very helpful.

I signed up for the class and met the teacher, Peggy King Anderson. (Those of my readers in the children's writing community are freaking out right now because I am dropping some names!)  Peggy is a teacher like no other I have ever known. She loves her students and her subject. She taught me that my best story is in my soul, curled up inside, and that it is destined to break out of its chrysalis and take flight. But the most important lessons I learned from Peggy were all about loving the journey of writing books, loving the people who write children's books, and actually letting the writing transform me, before it transforms anyone else.

Her Master Classes around her dining room table were magical. Bowls of popcorn, slices of apples, and generous heaps of conversation, I met Holly Cupala, Jolie Stekly, Meg Lippert, Allyson Schrier, Vijaya Bodach, and so many more in these classes. One thing was clear about Peggy: she nurtured excellence. Most writers entered her classes unpublished. Few stayed that way. Peggy encouraged me as a mom, as a wife, and as a student. She understood that people are complex and all the pieces of who you are inform your stories.  She taught me that in the midst of storms of life that writing is my safe place. She said, "Writing is saving you."

I'm a person of faith in Christ. With Peggy's gentle critique, I learned that there was a divine spark in in my work, something wholly outside me. Each book is lit by God and is part of a great fire of goodness. Faith is something beautiful that I share with Peggy. She taught me about holiness of my work, that it is important, and that children were hungry for my words. It is my sacred duty to make my words wonderful, to draw close to the bone, and reveal the hidden truth of the worth of every individual.

Finally, Peggy's belief in each and every one of her students buoys me. Do you have any idea how powerful the faith of a learned teacher is? Her unending encouragement lit a fire of encouragement in me that I try to pass it on. Peggy is no longer teaching classes to devote time her family. (Always keeping those priorities right.)  She does however continue to mentor. Check out the link to website above if you are interested.

My puny words are never going to reveal the total awesomeness of Peggy. If you read my post, and know Peggy, drop by her Facebook, and let her know what a difference she has made in your life. If not, thank the teachers who believed in you.

I hope you liked this series and will back with next week with a series I call Close to the Bone.

Here is a doodle for you.

Here is a quote for your pocket.

I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well. Alexander the Great, (His teacher, Aristotle, who was taught by Plato, who was taught by Sophocles.)

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