Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank A Mentor

Thank you to Girls Write Now for making today, January 25th, officially a Thank A Mentor Day. Not only did they start a twitter stream of #thankamentor, making me think about my heroes, but my own Girls Write Now mentee, Meg, sent me this note:

THANK YOUUU ♥ !!! Gah I don't say that nearly enough . . . But thank you for being my mentor, being an inspiration, being an example of fortitude and patience in your writing, for putting up with all of my angst, for writing and publishing an AMAZING novel, for encouraging me in my writing and life in general, and just for being all around a wonderful mentor and friend !!!!
I love you and miss youu ♥ Can't wait to see you (hopefully over spring break :D ? )



You are probably not tearing up right now as I am, but it's no coincidence that my blogs of late have all been about making connections - as writers, as human beings. Even though Meg is now a freshman at University of Rochester, we are still connected, and hopefully always will be.

Girls Write Now is doing a spectacular job of not only providing a space/tools for the mentor/mentee relationship, but of highlighting the more global social need. We all need guides, but we need them especially as teens, other adults who encourage us, who offer us other points of view. I am thrilled to continue to be involved with them, even though I am not a mentor this year. I will be editing this years' Anthology! (So stay tuned . . .)

Who were mine as a teen? (Besides the obvious, my grandmother, Madeleine L'Engle.) I am thinking about two teachers in particular in the high school I went to for junior and senior year. And I can't find them on Facebook, so I am thanking them on my blog!

My drama teacher, Peter Carvell was from England, and VERY flamboyant, with blonde curly locks and blood red lips. Drama Club was the first place as a teen where I felt a sense of community. Every play we did, we created a new family.

(It was such a relief when my first two years were spent at a boarding school where I was miserable. I didn't get to be a part of the Drama Club there.)

We produced and performed: Oh, What a Lovely War, Twelfth Night, Guys and Dolls, The Importance of Being Earnest. He was easy to talk to, respectful. When emotions ran high in school, he was the original "It gets better" man. "It isn't going to be high school for the rest of your life." He wanted me  to apply to acting school in England and pursue a career as an actor. (I only applied to Barnard, but later, I channeled his faith in me when I applied for the summer program at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and got in!)

I also have to give a shout out to James McHugh, another flamboyant man and my English teacher who fostered my love for reading and writing. The kids used to make fun of how much we adored each other, but come on, I was choosing to write my papers on Tennessee Williams and Tom Stoppard and he gave me straight A's.

Is this post making you think about your mentors, past and present? Who are they?
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  1. I may have to designate thank-a-mentor-month and do a series! I have so many (aside from your grandmother, of course). My childhood art teacher, Sue Hand, who is still a dear friend. Another artist and poet, Martha Sampson. She deserves a full blog post b/c I never got to say good bye to her before she passed away several years ago. I could go on and on, with several professors from college, not high school, on the list. Thanks for giving me a great idea--hope you don't mind me running with it.

  2. What a great idea. Like Alison, your grandmother deeply influenced me as a child and an adult. My freshman English teacher Allison Dunn encouraged me to write and to join debate. Both would change my life. On my first day of high school she told me "Girl, you are an English Major." My AP English teacher Mrs. Warr refused to let my writing stay mediocre even though I got A's. Michael Sowder brought me back to poetry and was the first professor to entrust me with his first name. It was an honor. His wife Jennifer Sinor not only encouraged my writing, but informed me I was already an accomplished writer of creative non-fiction. Brock Dethier and Star Coulebrook are the the kind of teachers I hope to be. My mom, my gran and my great gran imbued me with the spark of story telling and world making. I can only hope to be the kind of women they are.


  3. Hi Alison! I'm so happy that you like this idea and please run with it. I can't think of anything better than spreading gratitude! I look forward to hearing more.

    Word Diva! How wonderful that you have such immediate access to your own gratitude. And I know that you already are that "kind" of woman!

    Thank you both so much for sharing!


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