Award, schmaward

two girls who used to think awards mattered

This post is #3 in a series of 50 dedicated to the art and life of writing, in support of the 50 for 50 Project to benefit WriteGirl. If you like it, or if you think it could have been improved by a better writing education for its author, please give generously. And pass it on.

Believe it or not, I was sort of a nerd back in the day.

Not the very smartest nerd, of course. Just the almost-smartest nerd from a fairly shallow pool, and one whom the nuns felt would be the best all-around candidate for some award that some nice alumna had decided to gift the school with.

I’m not being coy about the name of the award; I truly do not remember it. While it seemed like the high point of my eight-grade year, my culminating season of a pretty winning eight (soon to be followed by a near-disastrous four, especially socially), I cannot for the life of me remember the name of that award, or what it purported to reward me for. I don’t even remember if there was money involved, and I almost always remember money.

Here’s what I do remember from my eighth-grade year at Sacred Heart Elementary School on Sheridan Road in Chicago, IL: Frances Kent.

Mrs. Kent was my eighth-grade English teacher, and the first teacher I remember who specifically, carefully, and generously urged me on to write. Perhaps she saw some promise there. Perhaps she felt herself to be something of a kindred spirit. In hindsight, it’s clear that she was a Second Wave Hot Ladynerd, what with her fabulous legs kicking out from under her knee-length pleated skirts, and her freckled nose, and her little round nerd spectacles.

Whatever it was that made her forgo what was surely a better-paying job in pretty much any other field where writing and smarts were required, I’m eternally grateful to her for her service, and her name is forever engraved upon my heart as surely as her hand is visible in my work. As my friend Daniel says, “…without women writers, I wouldn’t exist.”

xxx
c

3 comments

  1. Your story reminded me of my first award for writing which also occurred when I was in eighth grade. I was called to the high school principal’s office and didn’t know why. What had I done? There I received recognition for writing a story (school assignment) about a famous Illinoian (I’m also from IL). Being a girl, I picked to write about a girl, Jane Addams. I was so happy to not be in trouble. I never occurred to me that I might be a good writer.

  2. For writers, there is almost nothing to rival the power of a caring, insistent English teacher, especially in middle school when we’re still so raw and confused.

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