This post is inspired by The Red Dress Club RemembeRED prompt: “Everyone remembers that first inspiration or mentor in their lives that made them want to be or do something in their lives, whether you actually followed through with it or not. Tell us about that inspiration/mentor. How did they affect or change your life!”
Going into 9th Grade was a big change for me because I was going to be attending a different school. My plans were to attend the high school in our neighborhood, but just a short time before school started, a judge ruled that the kids who lived on the 35th Avenue stretch of blocks on the north side of Minneapolis had to attend Jordan Junior High School. After completing 9th Grade, we could then attend our neighborhood high school. If I would have lived one block closer to the high school, I would have been allowed to attend Patrick Henry High for 9th Grade.
I had one other friend who I knew from grade school who would attend Jordan with me. I also knew some neighborhood kids, but we were not close friends like we used to be when we were younger. I was pretty nervous about going to a new school, and I felt that I would have been more comfortable at the high school.
Looking back, I realize that Jordan is where I met some of my closest friends and where I met one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Hallberg. I admired Mrs. Hallberg’s soft-spoken ways, her pretty blond hair and petite figure – she could have been one of those actresses who portrayed a mom on television. We were assigned many writing assignments, and I still treasure my paper where Mrs. Hallberg penned in the corner: “You write very well. Keep on improving it and you may be able to make a career of it.” Her words always stuck in my head. She was the first person whoever complimented me on my writing. Mrs. Hallberg did not know that I wrote stories and poems all the time on the multi-colored, pastel notebook paper that was very popular back then.
Mrs. Hallberg’s words frightened me too. I did not have enough confidence to be a writer and do things that writers do, like join the school newspaper. I knew that writers get noticed and complimented and/or rejected and criticized. Hard things to accept for someone who just wanted to blend in.
Almost 40 years later, I finally gathered enough courage to listen to the words of Mrs. Hallberg. I am taking writing classes, started this blog, and making writing a priority in my life. I now know writing is something I just have to do for me.
Even though I was very upset about the judge’s ruling back then, attending Jordan turned out to be a good experience for me. Teachers’ comments can last a lifetime!