Here's our first runner up:
We were two weeks into our sixth grade class when our teacher died.
Our substitute teacher, Miss Hanson, had been a Spanish missionary to South America. She showed us a picture of her guide face down in a dugout with a spear in his back. We were mesmerized. Then she gave us mimeographed copies of how to make a shrunken head: first, get a head. When we studied South America, we knew everything.
She found each of our gifts and encouraged us: Jimmy and his dinosaurs, Lester and his bug collection, and me? She told me if I didn't keep writing, I would be wasting a gift from God.
Whoa. So I became a writer and editor.
My final memory of her was the day of the school dance. I was going steady with Merrill, the son of a Foursquare minister. I loved to dance and his religion forbid it. He asked for his ring back and then asked his best friend Glenn to ask me to go steady. I gave him his ring back, Glenn gave me a ring and we went to the dance. Miss Hanson asked Merrill to help her in the classroom during the dance and he created some great bulletin boards.
I don't know where Miss Hanson is today but I thank her for changing my life.
- Adrienne Kristine