Friday, May 11, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Week

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Did you know that the United States of America has designated the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week? It's true! Cross my heart.

After spending three days at outdoor school with my fourth grader, after watching the creativity and sacrifices made by teachers--in the classroom and outside it--I can't help but consider all the ways teachers helped me get where I am today.

When I was in first grade, I desperately wanted to be an astronaut. Tragically, you need to have some sort of mathematical inclination to succeed in outer space, so that was never going to work out. But! It was in first grade that I won my very first writing competition--for a story about a parakeet who escaped its cage only to be found by the hero feasting on a bag of birdseed.

My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Schroeder, set us a haunted house prompt on Halloween and she liked my story so much--featuring a terrified skeleton who joked about having no guts--she recommended I enter another writing competition. I cooked up a story about a uni-kitty and I never did hear how that one went over.

At the end of my sixth grade year, my two teachers, Ms. Stephen and Miss Yund, awarded me the Silver Pen which signified something about promise and skill. It is, by far, the best award I've ever been gifted. It's a bummer I sent it through the washer and dryer with my old jeans. Bummer for the jeans too.

Fun fact: Miss Yund was the very first person in line at the launch of my third book, Dark Halo. I can't even tell you how humbling that moment was.

During my sophomore and senior years, I had the ever-brilliant Mr. Cimino for English and Lit respectively. He introduced me to Hamlet--my favorite tragedy--and he taught me to think critically about the world and about what I read. If he awarded me anything, it pales in comparison to the way he taught and what he required of me. His class was reward enough.

When I left high school, I didn't intend to pursue writing. I wanted to be a missionary overseas. I wanted to perform onstage. I wanted so many things. But when my world tilted and I stumbled back toward writing, it was only ever there for me because of the teachers and the mentors who encouraged me all those years ago.

And so today, I want to thank them.

To the teachers I've mentioned and to the countless others who poured into me through the years, you'll never ever know what it meant that I had the privilege to sit under you. I know I had a lot of questions. I raised my hand far too much. I spoke when I should have listened. But your words were seeds planted in fertile ground, and now, those seeds are growing into books. Thank you for helping me be the writer I am trying every day to be.

How about you, writers? Are there teachers or mentors in your lives who encouraged you on? Maybe someone who introduced you to a new way of viewing the world? If you could thank them today, what would you say? And hey, maybe you can. Maybe tracking them down and saying THANK YOU would mean a ton to that hardworking teacher. Maybe, right?


  1. Aww, I love that she was at your book signing!

    My AP English teacher, once told the class that she thought I would someday be published, and that meant the world to me. Especially because I knew her remarks were not the result of my English essays. I was only an okay English student, so to me it meant that she'd seen something else in me. Those early encouragements mean so much!

    1. And I should proofread my own comments. Sheesh. I promise I know there doesn't need to be a comma after "My AP English teacher."

    2. Totally! The little things a teacher says go so far. The good and the bad, we hold them close for years. Also, I typo all the time. 😊

  2. My English teacher last year, when I was in 6th grade. She was truly the one who introduced me to writing. I had been given writing assignments in the years before, but I never enjoyed them. Mrs. Hartlep had a good English class, though. She had us working on a sentence activity, but when I couldn't share mine on the mic, I was determined to get it to her. I sent it to her through an email, and she came back to me saying, "I love it! You have a gift for writing :)" I was thrilled. Knowing I had that gift made me want to write.

    1. Oh! I love this! I'm so glad you were brave enough to email it to her. What a gift.

  3. I was homeschooled my whole life, but that doesn't mean my teacher (aka my mom) didn't make sacrafices. In fact, homeschooling takes a lot of sacrafice. She prioritized our education and teaching us life skills. She did a lot for me and my siblings. Though I graduated last year, I still appreciate and am amazed at all the things my mom did for us and continues to do for us on a daily basis.

    1. Parents are excellent mentors! I'm so glad your mom's sacrifices were appreciated.