Each year, when the summer fades to autumn, and the air takes on a crisp chill, I find myself missing my school days. So today, I write a letter to a teacher who had a profound and lasting impact, my college English teacher.
Dear Dr. Noble,
I read a poem today, and it reminded me of your classroom. It was "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath. You introduced me to her 15 years ago, with this same poem. I still remember the tone of your voice when you said "panzer-man, panzer-man". I still remember the way you pushed us to reflect upon the pain within the poem. I still remember the lifesavers you threw at us for offering up our opinions in class.
At the time, I had no idea what you were doing, when you introduced me to these names, Plath, Tennessee Williams, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Shelley, Tennyson. I had no idea that these names would become my old friends, their ghosts haunting my bookshelf. I had no idea, when you introduced me to the concept of the Byronic hero, that I would spend many years chasing him, until I was old enough to know better. I had no idea that, over the course of 5 years, you were shaping my future.
I remember it was my sophomore year, and I was petitioning to take a senior level literature course on Shakespeare. Everyone thought I was getting in over my head, everyone, that is, except you. You granted permission for me to take the class, and instilled me with the confidence to succeed. I got 100% on my final for that class, not because it was easy. Your classes were never easy, not in any way. Our grades consisted of a midterm and a final, both blue book essay exams. I walked into each test with nervous anticipation, yet completely prepared. The subject matter of your classes was never merely committed to memory; instead, it was inscribed on my heart.
You taught me critical thinking and analytical skills that I employ on a daily basis. Each time I read a book, each time I sit to write a literary review, I use the skills I learned from the back row of your second floor classroom. Your classes taught me a deep love, not just of literary works, but of words themselves. Your classes impacted the way I wrote for every other class during my educational career, and everything I have written since. Your classes have shaped my mind, and the core of my being.
I remember the very chairs in the room. I can hear your voice, and picture you sitting atop your desk, leaning forward, off on some digression that in all reality was teaching us to relate the literature to our everyday lives. You were always the coolest cat around, making class fun, but behind all that was brilliance that could never be questioned. You love literature in a way that made me love literature; a book will never be merely a book to me, but instead a means of transforming my current reality.
Someday, I hope to write literary works of my own. Someday I hope to share my love of literature with others. Someday, I hope to be as brilliant as you are. If I, one day, am able to impact someone as you have impacted me, well, then I will be a great success indeed.
With highest regard,
A grateful student