My son and I are getting ready for our big move to Texas. While cleaning the house and packing some closets with books and old magazines, I found an interesting piece in an old newspaper that I obviously have kept for some decades. It dates May 1986. And it's an article about me winning a prize for the best French essay, organized by the prestigious institute Alliance Francaise. I never intended to participate to the Contest but my French teacher, Mrs. Staal, insisted, and I won! More than 1400 students from Holland participated and thousands of others from all over Europe. I remember some details about the essay but I definitely have to make sure that I find it...It should be somewhere..
This winning essay shows my passion and probably can be seen as the start of my writing career! But there is another thing which is so much more important here. What happened back then also says something about a good teacher. Actually my teacher, Mrs. Staal believed in me and discovered my talent. She persuaded and signed me in when I had not enough self esteem to put up my finger when she asked the class who wanted to face the challenge of writing an essay in French. She looked at me right away and was surprised that I kept quiet. Yes, I loved studying and talking French, but never thought I could write essays. Then she said: "Well, Senay, I think you can do this easily so I am signing you in."
I was one of her best students (in French) but Mrs. Staal saw also another talent in me. She pushed me in the right direction and ever since, when I write, I think about her. For me, Mrs. Staal has become more than a teacher in French language. She is one of the people who gave direction to the life I'm living now.
Great teachers who recognize talent in students are priceless!