Friday, December 07, 2007


Billie tagged me, and I'm happy to participate in this meme, which honors the important teachers in my life.

Here's the meme:

Who are the thirteen teachers who have most personally influenced you and how?

Would you share your baker’s dozen of mentors with the world?

And here's my list, in chronological order:

1. Mrs. Williamson, my first grade teacher. I adored her. I thought she was soooo nice (as I would say back then, she never gets mad, except when a boy ate glue!). And she was the first person to tell me that I was smart.

2. Mrs. Skidmore, my high school English teacher.

3. Ms. Campbell, my high school psychology teacher. She was the first feminist I ever met. She showed us women-positive films while keeping the class discourse extremely casual and fun. I was very conservative in my youth, and she encouraged me to speak my opinions, even though I was pretty sure she didn't agree with them. She was the first person who showed me that teaching was about respecting those you're teaching.

4. Dr. Goode, a Byron scholar, and the director of my honors thesis before he had a heart attack and sat out a semester or two. He taught me close reading, a skill I'm grateful to have even as I moved far, far away from the New Criticism.

5. Ann Miller, who introduced me to Mary Oliver's poetry and who became my honors thesis director. Her amazing passion for literature and for the world in general continue to ripple after her passing.

6. Linda Walker, whose delight in Thoreau was contagious.

(And now as I get to people who I still have some contact with, I feel shy about making them Googleable. So I'll use first name, last initial.)

6. Roger M., who said, "You're a good poet," and introduced me to Language Poetry. If I had finished the PhD at IU, he would have been my director.

7. Cary W., who intimidated me, but introduced me to theoretical readings I'm still indebted to.

8. Susan G., who also intimidated me, but introduced me to feminist criticism.

9. Yusef K., who actually gave us assignments in workshop, and so forced me to stretch myself as a writer.

10. Laura S., who taught me yoga and mentored me as a beginning teacher of yoga.

11. Alice G., who modeled and included me in a collaborative approach to administration.

12. Lynn W., who introduced me to Foucault and myriad other theorists, who gave me renewed belief in myself as a scholar, who directed my thesis.

13. Ginny M., who teaches me to be mindful.

And even this list seems inadequate. How can I not also mention David W., who directed my MFA thesis; Kathryn F., who introduced me to CCCC and has been such a supportive reader of my work; Sienna, whose classes inspire me and have reignited my commitment to yoga practice... Not to mention all the friends, students, colleagues, who have taught me.

So much to be grateful for.