2011 Audrey Miranda - Dallas, Texas
Words of Women 2011 Essay of the Year
The logical choice for an influential woman is a mother or grandmother, but even though mine are influential in my life, my 5th grade teacher has inspired me the most. I walked into class the first day of 5th grade, at a new school and as a minority, and my teacher actually scared me because she was so loud and excited. Definitely more excited than the rest of us.
As each student walked into her room, which was curtained from wall to wall, she asked us what our favorite book was. Our responses were extremely unique: “Harry Potter #1”, “Harry Potter #2”, “Harry Potter #3”, or “Harry Potter #4”. After taking our seats, she danced to the front of the room and said “Who has a favorite book?” Raising our hands, we exchanged bewildered glances with each other since less than 5 minutes ago she asked what they were. Wandering to the back wall and looking at our raised hands disapprovingly, she said “These are my favorite books”. Simultaneously, she yanked down a curtain, reveling floor to ceiling shelves bursting with books. Galloping to the next wall, she repeated herself, this time with more enthusiasm, and removed another curtain, continuing this act until we were completely surrounded by books. “If you have a favorite book… then you haven’t read enough,” she announced; then she explained how sometimes we limit ourselves to certain things (books, friends, etc.) because we choose them based on previous experiences with similar ones. We were then told to walk to the nearest bookshelf and we complied.
Animatedly, she reached her hand up to a shelf, with closed eyes, and ran her hand across the spines; she stopped abruptly in the middle. Feeling around, she removed a book and looked at it smiling, like she had an idea. “Please select the book that looks the most boring.” Hesitantly, we picked, not wanting to offend her by thinking that she possessed monotonous books. “Please take these books back to your seat.” Venturing back to the round tables, we were told to think about the reason that we had picked our books. “I picked mine because it had a boring gray cover.” “I picked mine because it has small letters.” “I picked mine because the author has a lame name.” After listening intently to our answers, she wrote “please read the first 20 pages of the book that you are holding in your hands, due tomorrow” on the board with a bright pink marker. We began complaining about the assignment. Upon returning to class the next day, only two people out of twenty-four of us didn’t have altered judgments about the books.
Judging anything, friends, assignments or even books, before getting to know them, is not sensible or acceptable. I’m appreciative for receiving this seed of knowledge from her because it has enabled me to experience things that I wouldn’t have previously. Her inspiring teaching style and zest for life has truly made me the woman I am today.
Audrey Miranda, Dallas, Texas, Age Category: Maiden