Paying It Forward

If you’ve read many of my posts, you know that I’m a middle school teacher. My students know that I write…well, most of them do! My book is in our school library and a number of my students have read it. It’s something I’m proud to share with them, because I hope it sends the message that no dream is too big and that they can accomplish whatever they set out to do if they work hard and persevere.

From time to time, students will bring me things they’ve written. This absolutely THRILLS me! I’m not talking about things they wrote as a part of a school assignment, but things that they’ve written because they wanted to… something creative and imaginative. I always gush all over them about it, regardless of the quality of the writing. I mean, these are 12 and 13 year olds, so ANYTHING they’ve written that they weren’t assigned to write is a major accomplishment. It makes me happy to see kids exercising their creativity. The thought process that writing requires is a “muscle” of the brain that is highly under-used in today’s youth. So, I encourage them at every opportunity.

I don’t think of writing as an “exclusive club” open only to the most gifted or most socially acceptable. Writing – and all creativity - is something that should be nurtured in everyone. And I’m happy to serve that purposes for the young people in my circle of influence.

As my own children get older, I’m more and more grateful for the adults in their life that step into those “nurturing” roles for them. For example, my oldest son (now a freshman in high school) is a musician. A serious one. He plays guitar. He plays mandolin. He plays French Horn in the school band. He's playing trumpet in the school jazz band. He sings in the school choir. And he’s remarkably good at all of it… much better than a 14 year old ought to be! And every day I’m thankful for the teachers and role models in his life – Joni Farmer, Stephen Bishop, Lisa Gupton – for encouraging and nurturing his gifts and abilities and for sewing into what will one day be his life’s work.

Every one of us can encourage and nurture in some way, whether it’s young writers, musicians, wanna-be-chefs,  aspiring teachers, etc.

Pay it forward, folks!

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