What he shared with me was not only knowledge, but also the power of the written word. He showed me how writers changed society, how they carved ideas into minds, led revolutions, and created worlds of the greatest kind.
This teacher’s name is Paul Martin.
Mr. Martin didn’t exactly give me a free A on any test. On the contrary, he gave me a D- on my very first test on a book titled The Catalyst. I actually hated that book so much that I decided to write something I thought would be better than some eighteen-year old girl and her stupid life problems. I thought I would write an epic adventure about something I was interested in and not about some girl and her desire to get into MIT. I wrote the first chapter and handed it to Mr. Martin, who said that it was “interesting,” while also marking it with a black sharpie that bled through the paper. The paper had more marks on it than Freddy Krueger’s face. I was devastated to think that something with so many mistakes could even be considered “interesting.” So, I went back to my desk, sat quietly, and thought.
“What the hell am I doing wrong?” I started to bash on myself. “I’m never going to pass this class in a million years.” May I remind you readers that I was in ninth grade at the time, “I won’t be able to go to college if I write like this.”
So, I did not only do my studies, but tried writing a crappy novel. By the end of the year, I had known the reasons for my awkward sentences, wrong antecedents, and not to use the word “you.” I read all of Mr. Martin’s carefully placed comments, his notes in the margins, and his overall thoughts at the end of my essays. I wrote my first novel on the side and handed out chapters to my friends, who apparently enjoyed my terrible writing back then.
I finished my story after rewriting the first ten chapters twelve times and under fifteen working titles. I gave the piece to Mr. Martin over that year’s summer break and had it returned to me with a grim face in the fall. He told me that it was an okay story, but had many grammar mistakes. I had a lot of work ahead of me to become a writer and Mr. Martin was there to be my guide.
My first novel was crap. I still have it though with all its beautiful errors and some marks from Mr. Martin’s infamous black sharpie. One-hundred and forty-five pages of amateur writing now sat in my drawer as a memory and a reminder. I promised myself that I would write and continue to write until I was published. I don’t know what I was thinking when I first said the words, “I want to be a writer, ” but I knew it was the career choice for me ever since I said it.
So, Mr. Martin ended up teaching us, students, of the classics in literature and the modern marvels in the writing world. He showed us the power of poetry and the awesomeness of prose. He continued to teach us until the bell rang, while going on hilarious tangents about homeless people named Bosephus, working at Trader Joes, and a million other wonderful adventures that related to the things we were learning in class. He stayed up late grading papers for us. He read and re-read every one of his comments sacrificing sleep in the process.
So, now you, dear reader, are probably wondering why I write about Mr. Martin today of all days?
It is because my school, AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian, is firing him from the school staff after many years of teaching there. I do not know the reason why, but I can vouch only for Mr. Martin’s greatness for being a teacher. He’s the example of a perfect teacher and what every teacher should strive to be. I’m going to
My brother or cousins, who go to the same school, won’t be able to have those same experiences with Mr. Martin like I did. I feel bad for them, because they won’t learn the same values, hear the same stories, laugh with Mr. Martin, or learn to be more of a family than a class.
Mr. Martin was one of the best thing AGBU ever had to offer and now that they fired him, they had lost one of the few things that made school life enjoyable for a student.
Thank you, Mr. Martin, for those wonderful four years of English. So, I am not going to sit around and let this happen. Instead, I’ll write about it and dare to disturb the universe, like a writer should.
Have you, dear readers, had any teachers that were memorable in your life? (Professional or otherwise.) What did you learn from your teacher?