It was my fifth grade teacher, Ms. Bordi. Red curly hair, nonstop energy, and absolute love for her job and students gave her the very appropriate nickname of "Ms. Frizzle." Most of my elementary school life is a blur of art projects, recess, and singing time. Yet my fifth grade year always remains clear and crisp in my mind. Because of Ms. Bordi.
What made her so special to me?
It wasn't just her Ms. Frizzle-ness. No. It was because she was the first teacher who read my writing and said, many times: You can do this! Even when I was only a surly 11 year old who refused to do her math homework and talked back one time too many, she believed in me.
And that hit home.
Her words of encouragement, her shoves of "just do it," and her praise of even the silliest poem has stuck with me to this day. While there are many things I have forgotten or blurred from my childhood, this one thing I have not.
Someone believed in me. Someone wanted me to write my book.
What did I find in my box you ask?
It was my 5th grade memory book. I flipped through it, reading memories of my last year of Elementary school. Looking at my old school photos. Then I landed on a message signed by Ms. Bordi.
I cannot wait to open my Time Magazine and my TFK and find a big article about the award-winning artist/author Jenn L. Mason! Your writing has been like eating yummy chocolate all year - I love it! Fortunately, unlike chocolate, your writing has been for for me! Your sense of humor, persistence, and quick intelligence have been a pleasure! Don't forget to come back and visit me, ok? Otherwise I may track you down... and wrap you in a homemade straight jacket!
Love, Ms. Bordi
She gave me the realization that I just may have something in there other than a little story. She made me promise her a book. And when I published Prison Nation, I thought of her.
Teachers. Friends. Family. The words of encouragement they say can stick with you longer and more intensely that you ever thought. Too often those words of belittled. Looked down on. But not by me.
They are chocolate, but so much more healthy.
Take a moment today and admire the talent of the people around you. Give them a thumbs up. A "you can do this" message. A hearty slap on the back. Your words can create the difference in their life. I know those words have changed my own.
You can do it. I believe in you. Keep going.
Ms. Bordi gave me one of the first pushes. Others pulled me along the way. And here I am today. How can you thank someone enough for that?
Thank you Ms. Bordi. You will always be the best Ms. Frizzle, ever.
I hope I make you proud.