Oxford and Berkeley

Date May 11, 2009

Four years ago, one of the coolest and smartest girls I’ve ever taught walked into my room. A year before that the laziest smart boy I ever taught spent a great year with me. The girl, Alexis, decided she wanted to go to an all girl’s college so she could learn devoid of those silly boys. She asked me for a letter to Smith College and to this dad her father swears that my letter got her accepted there. (Madeliene Albright & Madeline L’Engle both went there!) The boy decided to not go to college at all. He walked around and headed northwest to Northern California, stopped eating meat and just hung out. I ran into him at the Getty in LA a few years later.

Over Spring Break of this year, the boy, John, asked me to edit his college essay. He was ready to go to college: Berkeley. One of the best liberal colleges in the west. He wants to be a rhetorician, and people like me know what that means. I edited his letter. Same week Alexis contacts me. She applied for study abroad during her junior year of Smith. She is studying British Lit (which happens to be my undergrad, too), and she was just accepted to Oxford University! John emails me the next day, the essay I helped edit got him into Berkeley on a full ride! These kids make me so proud, and I get the warm and fuzzies when they blame me for their accomplishments. Yes, I write letters. Yes, I push them more than almost anyone. Yes, I CARE. But they have to want it, too.

A few days later, I got a package from Wine.com. Inside are two bottles of wine (the second is for his “other favorite English teacher”, Liza, who also edited his essay). He sent these from Napa for us. It’s nice when we’re appreciated. Another boy Facebooked (yes, I made it a verb) today and told me that I am a great teacher, that he learned more in my class a few years ago than in any other, and that he was sorry he didn’t live up to his potential then. He also told me he was recently hired by NBC to work on the HEROES television show. Go figure.

Here’s some shots of the wine from Napa. Cheers.