There’s a new movie out right now, The Revenant, which is based off of a book written by a guy from my hometown. I think that’s pretty cool. It would be cooler if I knew him, but I don’t.
But I think my six degrees of separation is still pretty cool.
I happened to notice that the author of the book, Michael Punke, thanked a few of his teachers from said hometown on the acknowledgement page. In his words, “Thanks to a group of outstanding teachers from Torrington, Wyoming: …Craig Sodaro, Randy Adams … If you ever wonder whether teachers make a difference, please know that you did for me.”
I smiled. These were my teachers as well.
Mr. Adams taught me history or geography or some other subject I really didn’t care about at the time. He was a good teacher; I just wasn’t his greatest student.
Mr. Sodaro, however, was my eighth grade English teacher – a subject I was interested in. Not only was he a great teacher, but I also credit him, in part, for my wanting to be a writer (even if it went off my radar for a couple decades.) To this day, he remains one of my favorite teachers. He might even rank #1 on that list. As evidence of that, I have kept – for all these (gulp) thirty years – two of my writing assignments from his class, one fiction and one non-fiction.
(There was another teacher mentioned that I’m pretty sure was my freshman English teacher, and no discredit to him, but I wasn’t very focused on school that year.)
I love two things about these papers. First, that they are handwritten. Hand writing anything is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and that’s just sad. I cling to the handwritten word mightily. Secondly, I love the painstakingly perfect penmanship, every left-slanted line and circle-dotted ‘i’ of it.
To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure how or why I hung on to these papers all these years. But I’m glad I did. It’s a visual reminder that this course was set before me long before I knew I was on it.
I echo Mr. Punke’s sentiment: Thanks, you made a difference for me too.