Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
When I was in 9th grade, I moved to Tustin, California, and was moved from the regular class track to an Advanced Placement/College Prep track. My English teacher was Enola Sleeper. I remember most every piece we read that year because each time we started something new, she brought it to life somehow–mostly by reading the work. I remember her reading the poem “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound:
- In a Station of the Metro
- The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
- Petals on a wet, black bough.
- — Ezra Pound
Simple stuff, so few words, but it made an impact. You could see black asphalt, petals, wetness…the blur of the faces. The Americans were in 9th grade: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Capote. “Jake liked to open cans.”
After ‘Nola, we had Mr. Woods. He rocked our world with English Literature. Then, in 11th grade, we went back to ‘Nola. I can’t say what we learned, but I remember her reading works out loud, bringing them to life for us. I remember her reading…and explaining…”The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I remember “Hap.” These poems spoke to me and became a part of my fabric.
‘Nola is the only teacher I have found from my past and friended on Facebook. She was a short, little round lady who laughed, loved literature, and lived a literary life. She instilled in me my love of literature and writing. Because of her, I joined the Amazing Instant Novelist site in an effort to keep my writings under a certain length. She is the only teacher who revealed a deep personal secret to us. She was named Enola, because it was “alone spelled backwards.” How sad is that?
I had numerous teachers who made an impact on my life. Most of them were the only constant in a life of eternal moving from city to city. I can name many, but I do think Mrs. Sleeper made the most significant and positive effect on my life overall. This wasn’t the most poetic tribute to her, but it does do her some justice.
I will be forever grateful to you for “Hap.”
BY THOMAS HARDY
Thanks, Mrs. Sleeper.