Today’s Throwback Thursday post is going to be a little different.
Facebook just informed me that today, May 9th, is teacher appreciation day, which got me thinking about the impact teachers have on our lives. Probably more than any other profession, teachers shape our early years and both their teaching skills and their personalities leave marks on many of us. An unkind comment can hurt and influence the choices we make many years later, and so can a word of encouragement that came at just the right time.
Here’s a little shout-out to the teachers who made a real difference in my life:
- my first primary school teacher was a larger-than-life force of nature. She taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. And made me believe it.
- my secondary school English teacher caught me writing in class. She confiscated my “novel” and gave it back to me three days later telling me to keep writing.
- the deputy head of my extended secondary school called me out on my second day at the school – and landed me in detention. (Very Gareth!) I never liked him, never really got on with him, but he was the one man who saw past teenage drama and hormones and posturing, saw a real crisis and stepped up to help.
- I’ve had a boss who rebuilt my battered confidence and then sent me on to the next job with a hug. And I’ve worked for a man who inspired me to stand up for myself and had my back when I needed it.
I’ve been lucky in most of my teachers and mentors, which is probably why I often include those kinds of relationships in my stories. Rio Palmer and Gareth Flynn come to mind right away. Both very different characters, one endlessly patient, the other with a no-nonsense air and a short fuse for bullshit. But both are consummate “encouragers”.
Rio has the patience to outwait a scared, almost feral Jack. Even once Jack responds, he doesn’t push him, just lays out all the options and leaves Jack to decide.
Gareth is rather different. He will call out bullshit, and he will definitely push. But because he leads by example, Jack doesn’t balk at being made to practice hand-to-hand at 5am, study for his degree, or learn how to interact with people.
In the Forever England mysteries – still WiP at this point and set in Edwardian England – Frances’s father treats her as if she’s a son rather than a daughter. She studies for a degree, drives a car and supports women’s suffrage… aware that she had opportunities other women of her time did not. When war threatens England, she decides to serve just as the men do. And she’s well aware that without her father’s guidance and support, she wouldn’t be the woman she is.
And here’s a final example from my current WiP, Embracing Fire, the second Gifted Guilds book, where both Guild Master Dorian, and his second-in-command Javier make excellent mentors:
“Well then, welcome to the Warriors Guild, Rien. Nobody here has inherited their place. Everyone is gifted in addition to being a fighter. We each bring different gifts to the whole and those gifts, and the loyalty we show to each other, make the Warriors Guild. I’m a weaver, able to enhance each warrior’s gifts and coordinate our efforts. As guild master, I speak for the guild in business and in war. In the daily life of the guild, all warriors are equal. In war, or during missions, my word is law. You are expected to explore your gifts, hone them as you hone your fighting skills and you will always step up to help and defend another warrior, whether you’re so asked or not. Do you understand these rules?”
“Do you agree to abide by these rules?”
“Good.” Dorian smiled. “Then, to begin your tenure with us, you’ll join one of the patrol troops. This will give you a chance to meet the others serving here. Once you’re settled, we will see about your gifts.”
Rien opened his mouth to argue, but Dorian must have anticipated his objection, because he raised a hand to stop him.
“Let me give you your first lesson right now. Warriors are not born with their skills. We’re born with the potential. And that potential, in untrained, unprepared hands, is a very dangerous weapon. The basic gifts—like your talent to sense the location of people you know—often manifest on their own and are fairly easy to master without guidance. The greater talents, the soul gifts, tend to be difficult to bring forth and can be destructive. Stress, trepidation, fear, or any other unsettling emotion can make you lose control of your gifts, with disastrous consequences. This is why I want you settled and comfortable before we begin your training. Do you understand?”
Rien couldn’t remember any time in his life when someone had bothered to explain the reasoning behind a decision to him. The master of the Warriors Guild wasn’t simply welcoming him in person, he cared enough to make sure Rien understood what awaited him in this new place. And now he had given his explanation, he waited patiently for Rien’s answer.
There really was only one answer to give. Rien looked up and met Master Dorian’s gaze without flinching. “Yes, Master.”
Happy Throwback Thursday, everyone. If you’re a teacher, I hope you enjoy your special day. If you’re not, maybe take a moment to remember a teacher from your past who shaped your future. And please, if you’ve read a book that features an awesome teacher or mentor, why not share it in the comments? I feel like adding to my TBR.
And just in case you missed it….Healing Glass is currently on pre-order and will be released on May 13th. Get yours here: