A Place to Share for Writers and Teachers
This doesn't seem like the best place for this comment, but I'm not sure where else to put it, and I knew, Mr. Lane, that you would appreciate it!
In Kentucky, 4th graders are required to write for a writing portfolio (up until a month or so ago, when the legislature decided to up-end the writing portfolio requirments -eefectively decimating the current model, but that's a message for another time!). Any way, one of the required pieces for the portfolio is a reflective letter. I save that piece until the very end so that we can properly reflect on EVERYTHING we've done and learned and read that has helped us become better writers. Today, I was brainstorming with a small group, asking them to think about lessons, books, movies, life experiences, people that have helped them become better writers.
One of my kids said to me, "Miss Murray, who's that dude whose movies you show us all the time on Youtube?"
Well, it just so happens that I used all of the Hooked On Meaning video snippets you loaded on Youtube for mini-lessons, and my kids know I've gone to "learn from Mr. Lane."
So, I replied, "Do you mean Mr. Lane?"
"YES!" He sighed. "Mr. Lane! He's helped me be a better writer too!"
There you have it! You're a mentor for some of my 4th graders! :)
Mr. Borilla was my fourth and fifth grade teacher. My oldest brother had had him too, but Andy (my middle brother) had missed out. I was the third and final Harrison to go through Bullard Elementary, and every teacher I had I seemed to share with at least one of my older brothers. Early on, every one of my teachers compared me to one of my brothers because they teachers were already familiar with the crazy and outgoing Harrisons persona.
"Your brother was so good at math, Corbett. I know you can be too." I don't remember which of my elementary teachers said that, but it still reminds me of how life was at my school.
Mr. Borilla found me to be unique though. He read my crazy creative writing ramblings aloud to class. The class always laughed. Several times, Mr. Borilla laughed so hard that his cheeks became stained with tears. None of my brothers had ever made one of their teachers cry! I acheived something with that, and from it I found the love of writing.
My brothers don't write like I do. They do a little, but Mr. Borilla gave me something special that they missed out on at Bullard Elementary in Fresno, California. Mr. Borilla gave me the voice that I still carry with me today.
Inspired by Barry's stories of his fourth grade teacher (Miss Foley, who wrote grants for guitars), I set up a blog a year ago called the "Mr. Borilla Project," and teachers can share memories of their most inspirational teachers. I just finished teaching my last inservice class of this school year--a class on narrative--and all of my participants shared great stories. (http://borilla.edublogs.org/)
Here is a picture of Mr. Borilla:
Love that picture of Bob, Judy.
In some ways my first writing mentor was my older brother Michael. He was not cool, in fact he was often picked on by kids in the neighbor hood because he thought he was Superman. He was obsessed with this idea that he could fly. He didn't do pretend. His fantasy life was so bullet proof I think he inspired in me a belief that I could be anything too. I was the younger, cute baby brother . I guess you could call me Krytonite because my brother was jealous of the attention I garnered. He felt it weakened him. I didn't feel the same way about him. I looked up to him and I could occasionally enter his fantasy life. He would let me be his sidekick as long as I didn't fly too close.
Later in our childhood we would lie in bed on hot summer nights. We would do, what we called, late night talk shows. We would talk about EVERYTHING but especially the idea that there were millions of stars and that those stars had planets circling them and that one of those planets was like our own and there were two alien kids laying in bed having their own alien late night talk show.
My inner imaginative writer life was not born on paper, but lying on my bed on those hot summer nights as the crickets chirp, chirp, chirped and the fireflys flickered in the blackness.