I've been lucky enough to have several smattered through my school years.

First there was my fourth grade teacher - a fantastic woman and the very model of what great teachers should be - who saw me using my free time to jot down stories instead of ... well whatever it was 9 and 10 year olds did in 1995 when not saddled with busywork. She liked to give students individual graded tasks tailored to their strengths and interests. So naturally, she made little Kate write stories.

The evil (I use the term lovingly, as she was a close friend to my family after teaching my brother and I) woman also saw how stubborn I was with my self-imposed perfectionism. So she gave me a B+ on every assignment. At the time, anything less than an A was offensive. So of course I put my head down and wrote harder. She later confessed that I deserved an A all along, she just wanted to see if I could do more. Do better. And that I'd shattered expectations.

So yeah, Marianne? If you ever stumble on this forum for some unfathomable reason, I want you to know that this lifelong obsession with telling stories is your fault.

Let's see, next came my sophomore year of high school. I had just moved from the northeast US to middle of nowhere coastal South. I pounced on the opportunity to take an actual, honest to goodness, creative writing class. Except the teacher was, to use an adequately antiquated word, a prig. Everything I wrote came with the sort of polite dismissiveness that Old South southern ladies can master. It was perfectly clear that all my flights of fancy and stories of heroes and love and hope were lesser.

So yeah, Mrs Prig (as I'll now forever think of her - probably an upgrade from her other name *cough*) isn't the second inspirational teacher. It was my English lit teacher at the time. The kind of hunky, thoughtful teacher in jeans and trendy blazers that make teenager pay a little too much attention. Except, you know, he was a decent dude and not at all interest. Anyway, he recognized my frustration with that other class (and probably my frustration with just being a new kid grappling with culture shock and a shitty home life) and encouraged me to "fuck her, write what you want because you do it well." Along with actual, usable lessons in creative writing I wasn't getting in writing class.

I asked him, just before I graduated, why he didn't teach the writing elective. He didn't have an answer then, but did end up teaching it the next year.

And lastly, the college professor that got me to actually respect and then love kidlit and YA. Funnily enough, she was the opposite of Mrs Prig. Southern-fried, but in the sweet and genuine way. The way that writes cozy mysteries and lovingly pulls young womens' heads out of their own butts.

By the time I came to her class, I'd been through the wringer that was my universities super competitive and lit-fic focused writing program. I was tired and jaded. So I took the kidlit class as a palette cleanser. Like a good teacher, she recognized some of my natural writing tendencies and pitched YA at me. Of course I dismissed it like a good self-involved artiste.

So she threw a giant reading list at me (also a convenient to test her syllabus for the pilot YA lit class) and fully converted me. I actually broke program rules to take a ninth writing class just to get it on it. Got me to embrace all the things so many classes and teachers and even a few peers had tried to beat out of me.

So yeah, I've been pretty lucky when it comes to teachers.