Sadly, it wasn’t until I reached my tertiary education that I actually encountered such a person. The late Tom McCabe encouraged me to become editor of the college newspaper. He talked about writing in a way that previous teachers had conspicuously failed to do. He re-ignited my passion for writing poetry. He talked with passion and authority about the joy of writing. He was a stand out champion for writing!
I certainly had teachers who stood out as beacons for literature and reading. People such as John Harris, my Grade 6 teacher, who read the poetry of Henry Lawson and A B Paterson with great enthusiasm. He also introduced us to the work of Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling. His reading was intoxicating. He had a way of taking the listener with him as he read. He made Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, come to life in my mind.
In high school John Simpson and Fred Male were passionate champions of great literature and poetry. We were exposed to a wide range of literary models for which I am now eternally grateful. I recall reading, ‘Prisoner of Zenda’, by Anthony Hope Hawkins, ‘
’ and ‘Caravans’ by James A Michener, ‘Robbery Under Arms’ by Rolf Boldrewood as well as the works of Shakespeare and the poetry of John Keats and Elisabeth Browning because of their efforts to shape their students as life long readers. I also read a series of detective novels by Arthur Upfield. Upfield's books featured fictional Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte('Bony') of the Queensland Police Force. Hawaii
But for all their efforts around reading, and for their consistent urgings for us to read, I do not recall them having the same voice for writing. I wonder how students today think of us in this regard? Do they see us as teachers who champion both reading and writing? Have we influenced them to such an extent that the siblings of the literature family have a place in their future plans?
Do you have a writing champion that stands out in your educational journey? I hope you do. Things have improved dramatically for me over the years, I now have several writing heroes. How fortunate is that?