Eons ago when I started high school, I chose a creative writing class for an English elective. Until that point, I was fairly cruising through school and a bit bored. While I had always enjoyed learning, I was not enamored with the formal, structured school environment. I had been writing short stories and poems since I could pick up a pencil and the class seemed a great fit for another easy "A." Ms. Buechler taught several English classes and this class was my first introduction to her. She was a very pleasant, soft-spoken individual who obviously nurtured her students. This was going to work out well, I thought.
When our first assignment of the semester was handed out, I skimmed the assignment, noted the parameters and the due date, and set it aside. Three weeks? Hmm, no homework for three weeks and I could kick that assignment out the night before in fine order, take my A and move on. Sounded great to me and I went with it as a plan, after all, that formula had worked for me in school so far.
It worked out all right, until the graded papers were handed back to us. A "C?" My first "C?" It was a solid, good paper and I knew it. For the first of only two times in my life, I approached an educator to question a grade. I've always been a bit quiet, shy, rarely outspoken and, as many professors would comment in my life, one of those rare "A" students that gravitates to the back corner of the room rather than the front; quietly keeping my head down and making no waves. I screwed up my nerve and went to her at the end of the period. "Where did I go wrong?"
"Oh, it was an "A" paper... from anyone except you. The students with weaker papers that received "A"s, well, they worked hard and put all they had in those weaker papers. You wrote your paper in an evening. I know this because while the paper was good, you are capable of so much more. You put in a "C" effort and a "C" is what you received."
That was almost 45 years ago and I still believe it was the single best lesson an educator ever took the time to teach me. That "C" has stayed with me throughout my life in every task I've approached, a gentle reminder that I must put my best efforts into every challenge, large or small, simple or complex, because anything less is a cheat. I took every class I could with Ms. Buechler in high school and even student-taught for her in my last year there. Because of that single lesson, I realized the impact a true educator could have on a student's life, and I was a bit in awe. I admired her greatly for several reasons, but for that one particular lesson, I will always be grateful. Ms. Buechler, wherever you are, thank you.
Did an educator change your life?