Thanks, You Made a Difference

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.

Perfect Essay

Mr. Sodaro was being generous with the “perfect essay” compliment, but even now I think it was pretty good. He must have let me slide in that resource sheet after all.

Cert of Excellence Paper

I think this one might have been the first piece of fiction I ever wrote. It’s horrible, of course, and completely cheesy. Also, I’m sure everyone in the class got the Certificate of Excellence.

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.

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