Friday, February 5, 2010

Paying Tribute

Since it is February, the month of love--in some many forms and ways--romantic, platonic, and historical, I thought I would pay so "love" to one of the greatest teachers I encountered in my life; Mr. Charles warr. Mr. Warr was my 4th grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School. Tall, dark, big lips, and short fro Mr. Warr always gained our attention. In part because many of us were from homes with single mothers that daddies rarely visited it was great to have a true male authoritative figure that paid attention to us.

He pushed us; a little was never enough in Mr. Warr's class. I distinctly remembered him assigning us to write an essay in response to MLK's I Have a Dream. At that age I had no clue that I was on the verge of tapping into my love of writing because of this man. I knew I some-what liked to write but this essay showed the possibilities. After he gave out the assignment, I hurriedly scribbled my response and handed Mr. Warr my essay. He told it from my eager hands, quickly glanced it over and then shoved it back into my hands.

"Fix this, this, and this. Write more." He pointed to the specific parts I needed to correct without even looking my direction.

Afraid to reply. In my day having words after the teacher spoke was considered "talking back." I simply turned around, walked over to my desk and went to work. After I added a few more scribbles to the collection, I took the walk back to his desk. He sat there eating an orange and reading the local paper. I didn't speak, just handed him the paper. He looked down at it again...

"Write more." As he sectioned off another piece of his orange.
"Mr. Warr!!"
"You wanna win, don't you?" He was referring to the fact that this essay was a contest sponsored by the local chapter of the junior league.
"I don't know. I just wanna write the assignment and get it done."
"well," he handed it back to me yet again.

I had no choice, I took the essay and put the pen back on the paper. It felt like a challenge now. I had to "prove" that I could write the best fourth grade possible. I was focused. Head down, eyes focused and I begin reworking the heck out of that essay.

In hindsight Mr. Warr knew what he was doing. It was announced over the static-filled PA that I won the fourth grade school wide contest and then would go one to compete in the district wide contest. And guess what--I won that one too.

In honor of Black History Month, I remember those who helped make my history memorable: Mr. Charles Warr. Mr. Warr I thank you for taking an active interest in my life as a student and as a writer. You sparked the match that light by ignition for writing. You purposely broke off a piece of you and deposited it into me. You are a part of the teacher and writer that I am today! Thank you!

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