This evening I'm thinking about Sharon Browman, who was my fifth grade teacher at Westminster School more than 40 years ago. Tonight, I'm thinking of Mrs. Browman (though we are still in touch, and these days I call her "Sharon") because I am reviewing a book by Ken Robinson called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I just finished reading a chapteron the importance of mentors and it reminded me how Mrs. Browman was the first teacher who really encouraged me to write. In fact, I wrote my first "book" in her class!
Mrs. Browman was -- and still is -- smart and kind, and she had a way of making each student feel special. In my case, that meant she encouraged me to express myself through writing. She was the first person, I think, who treated me like a writer. I also remember that her classroom felt safe. You could be yourself when you were there.
One of the things Robinson says about mentors is that they "stretch" us. He writes, "Effective mentors push us past what we see as limits." Robinson also tells the story of another man named Robinson -- baseball player Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson was the first black player in major-league baseball. Early on in his career, he was taunted and threatened during games. Once, he nearly lost his concentration. His teammate Pee Wee Reese called a time-out and encouraged Robinson, telling him that one day he would make it to the Hall of Fame. And when, many years later, Robinson was inducted to the Hall of Fame, he talked about Reese's role in his life: "He saved my life and my career that day... I had lost my confidence and Pee Wee picked me up with his words of encouragement. He gave me hope when all hope was gone."
So today, I want to say a huge thanks to all the mentors out there, especially MY Mrs. Browman. For those of us who have had the good fortune of being mentored, it's now up to us to pass on what we've learned, and perhaps to serve as mentors to others.
So let's say you're an aspiring writer out there who happens to be reading my blog and getting a little encouragement from it... well, you're going to have to hold up your end of the bargain. You've got to promise that one day, you'll encourage someone else who needs it. So have we got ourselves a deal or what?!!