For as long as I can remember words meant everything to me. Initially this love of words came as a child in the form of reading books. Of course at a young age you are just learning to recognize words and in turn being able to form sentences. As your reading progresses and your knowledge of the vocabulary increases you realize these sentences have a greater meaning. Into my teen years this love grew to include some amazing works such as the Dubliners, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , and countless books of poetry. I devoured readings including those of Robert Frost, W.B Yeats and Maya Angelou who immediately became my most beloved poet, author and public speaker.

I didn’t look like everyone else I grew up with and fitting in was beyond difficult for a long period of time. My hair wasn’t straight, my skin wasn’t light and I certainly did not come from privilege. Maya Angelou’s words truly hit home for me through these years and for years to come. Her story was my story. She made me believe that no matter what I had been through, what people said, or how they tried to make me feel, that I was a “Phenomenal Woman”! Robert Frost took me on endless journeys through the woods on snowy evenings, down two roads diverged and taught me to take the road less traveled, which for me HAS made all the difference. WB Yeats drove home that “Education is not just filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” That fire burns even brighter today!

7th grade was an enormous turning point in my life and love affair with words. My English teacher exposed me to a multitude of poetry and short stories. Mrs. S shared with me her passion for these great works and became the first to tap into my talents. She taught me that when I was happy, sad, or unsure that I could write these words down and that they could help me through the process. We didn’t necessarily always need to talk to someone about how we were feeling. In writing we could put it down, work through it, rise above and move forward. It is my hope that I can do this for at least one of my students. Maybe they to can love words and in turn become the next great writer. Even if they only write for themselves.

Music and lyrics later became one of my sanctuaries. In sad or difficult times I knew I could turn to songs to soothe me. It was never a stretch to find a musical story that rang true to what I was dealing with at the time. Drawn in by such amazing artists as Donny Hathaway, Elton John, Janis Joplin, and Billy Joel to name a few I learned how to better visualize my phraseology. Writing became more than my passion, it was as important to me as breathing. Daily writing was necessary whether it was just a brief thought, journal or a full story. It surely became my lifeblood, escape, retreat, and my therapy. “Writing is a way of life. It’s not what I do…it’s who I am”.

If there is anything that we can teach our kids it is the power of words. With as much as words can hurt someone, they can truly heal them too. Be thankful for your struggle it is where you will find your strength.

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