Favorite Teachers – Guest Fox Chris Bailey

                               Introducing Guest Fox Chris Bailey
                                                   By Jeff Salter 

            I first ‘met’ Chris Bailey shortly after joining RWA’s Chick Lit Chapter in the spring of 2010.  But I first encountered her professionalism and thoroughness when we teamed up for a short article in the chapter’s quarterly (electronic) newsletter.  And I was very impressed.
            She’s currently vice president of our chapter and also editor of Chick Chat.
            I’ve subsequently learned I’ve practically been ‘neighbors’ with this Alabama resident … without realizing it:  I’ve lived in Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana … and I own property in Clarke County AL.
            I gave Chris her choice of three ‘back-to-school’ topics … and she selected the best one.  I’m willing to relinquish it, however, because her Mrs. Wilson sounds a lot like the teacher I would have profiled. 

                                      Shaping Days to Come
                                               By Chris Bailey 

            I once drafted a bio for my writing that included the phrase, “discouraged by family but encouraged by her teachers….”
            The permission to try harder came with a smile from Mrs. Jane Wilson. In eighth grade English. Eleventh grade English. Eleventh and twelfth grade newspaper staff.
            The lessons she taught stuck with me, even though I walked out of her classroom for the last time 35 years ago. I’ve never before publicly recounted the ways she influenced me.

Positive teacher traits
            She was patient, respectful, encouraging, creative, and demanding.
            She was so patient that she didn’t explode when she returned to our eighth grade class to find Dana Diva* standing behind the lectern, relating in graphic detail the loss of her virginity. We were riveted. When Mrs. Wilson stopped the show, there was no shouting. Dana scuttled back to her seat, Mrs. Wilson reiterated our assignment, and, when we were back at work, she had a private word with Dana.
            Mrs. Wilson demonstrated respect to a girl who hadn’t exhibited it.

Outside the classroom
            I know about undeserved respect, because I had my own private words with Mrs. Wilson a few years later. A new girl in school–let’s call her Sally Stoner–complained of a migraine, and asked me if I’d take her home to pick up her medicine. No car? No problem. She’d borrowed keys from a senior. Okay. I’m in. Anybody would love a chance to drive that well-known little red Corvette.
            Still, I wasn’t the type to skip, not even lunch period, so I asked Mrs. Wilson for a library pass. Sally and I made it down the mountain to her house and back in record time, no harm done.
            Except Mrs. Wilson had spotted our departure from the lower level parking lot.
            What she (later) said to me was, “I’m disappointed that you abused my trust in you.”
            I got the message, without a trip to the principal’s office, or detention, or getting in trouble at home. Mrs. Wilson’s second chance encouraged me to take full responsibility for my actions.

Seeking boundaries
            Most of the time, we weren’t looking for trouble. We were learning. Which didn’t mean we weren’t straining to look over the edge.
            When my writing buddy, Myra Mirth, and I created nonsense assignments, Mrs. Wilson endured our whispers and giggles.
            “Booberry ith ethereal,” we responded on a vocabulary quiz. We cracked us up, and Mrs. Wilson understood that young writers have to start somewhere. By not objecting to our word play, she granted us free rein to explore our creativity. However, she expected us to complete the serious work, too.

Five-paragraph essays
            Our class spent at least one entire six-week grading period practicing five-paragraph essays. You remember: an opening paragraph that expresses the theme and outlines the subject matter, a supporting paragraph for each of the subjects, and a summary paragraph. All in fifty minutes. A daunting drill at first, but manageable in the end.
            People ridicule the formula, but it worked for me when I needed to fill blue books during exam week. Still works for me, especially when a blog deadline looms. I own the ability to produce an essay without too much agony because I had a teacher who demanded that we learn to organize our thoughts.

Confidence to dream
            Mrs. Wilson deserves an award for spending so many hours in a classroom with me. I’ve already received my reward: the confidence to dream to that I might be a writer one day. 

            * All student names except mine have been changed to allow them the luxury of anonymity. 

* * * * * 

            An aspiring fiction writer, Chris Bailey’s non-fiction work has appeared in numerous newspapers, in mailboxes across the U.S. and Canada, and online. She has also published short fiction, poetry and devotional material. Her formal education includes a journalism degree from The University of Alabama. She pursues continuing education opportunities through memberships in Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America.

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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31 Responses to Favorite Teachers – Guest Fox Chris Bailey

  1. Lois Grant says:

    What a teacher! I have had the support and push from several teachers, but nothing in the writing category. Might be that they didn’t see that spark in me. In later life, I had the luck to have one of my favorite teachers on the board of the Library where I worked. I was just beginning as Children’s Librarian and was increasing the children’s programming offered by our Library. She was constantly telling other Board members that I had been her student in high school. I also had a third grade teacher who called and complimented me on my summer programming and told me that she was proud of me. It is wonderful when you make your family proud, but it means the world when you make your old teachers proud!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Sug, that is so cool that you had contact, later in life, with those teachers.
      I’ve also done that, mainly with letters, but a few in person.
      One teacher I’ve never been able to reach, however, was my third grade teacher, Miss Ray Netterville.
      Yeah, I spelled it right.

      Like

  2. Chris Bailey says:

    Congratulations, Lois! It’s high praise, indeed, to be remembered and recognized for your community service.

    Like

  3. I’m one of the lucky ones! I’ve had several great teachers in my life that have honed me a s a person and forced me to use untapped skills.
    Mrs. Mahendran used science to make me organize and note details, Mrs. Booze and Ms. Rinker asked us to keep journals that explored all types of writing from poetry to writing captions on photos. Years of that made me search deep for new topics! Madame Taylor allowed me to explore, write and immerse myself in the beauty of the French language.
    I am so blessed by having these teachers in my life.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      You had a teacher named Mrs. Booze? Bet she took a lot of ribbing. LOL.
      I was also very fortunate, Stacey, in having MANY fantastic teachers who saw a spark somewhere inside me and fanned it into flame. Well, that makes me sound like an arsonist, but you get what I mean.

      Like

    • crbwrites says:

      That’s so interesting that your journal included photo captions. I remember keeping a poetry journal, and how grateful I was that Mrs. Ray allowed song lyrics to count. Yep, we’ve been blessed!

      Like

  4. Micki Gibson says:

    It’s the Mrs. Wilsons that humble me and inspired me when I think about my years as a teacher. Glad to have you here today, Chris!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Me too, Micki. Humbled and inspired. Because of my 12th gr. English teacher, I really thought I wanted to teach in H.S. Eng. and actually began “education” classes. However, the curriculum in “education” quickly soured me on education.

      Like

    • crbwrites says:

      Thanks, Micki. Looking back, I can’t believe what my teachers went through!

      Like

  5. Welcome to our lil ole blog. I love your tribute to your teacher- she was quite a woman and you were lucky to get a chance to be molded somewhat by her. These kinds of teachers are few and far between.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      True: few and far between. Also, too many never hear back from their former students. Kids grow up and get their lives going and — unless you happen to remain in the same vicinity — it’s way too easy to loose touch. I’d still love to get an address for Miss Netterville, and Mrs. Sherman (and I don’t even know her first name!).

      Like

    • crbwrites says:

      Thanks so much for the welcome! I feel lucky to have had a LOT of good teachers. Only one, in fact, that I’d rate a dud. She actually read the textbook out loud during class. Senior year. Can you believe it?

      Like

  6. Oh, Chris. Your teacher sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing and reminding us that a great teacher can make all the difference in the world.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Happy to have you visit again, Kimberley.
      Yeah, wonderful teachers can make such a huge difference in whether a child learns (and WHAT they learn). Conversely, horrible teachers can make school seem like not much more than a prison.

      Like

    • crbwrites says:

      Thanks, Kimberley. I am so much more in awe of teachers now than I was in the classroom. They probably wish it was the other way around.

      Like

  7. jbrayweber says:

    Great post, Chris! You are so lucky that you had a teacher that got through to you and made such a positive impact. Not just on you as a respectful student, but as a serious author.

    My English teacher my senior year did something for me no one else did. She recognized that although I was an A+ student I had a learning disability. I never realized that until she spotted it. I had always worked extra hard (I mean much more than the average a+ student) to make those grades. But when I could NOT read Pride and Prejudice (And still can’t BTW) she knew something was wrong. I have a form of dyslexia. I have trouble comprehending what I read. Knowing that explains so much to how I learn, study, read, and write. And I am truly thankful to that teacher.

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      What warms me about your teacher, Jenn, is that she obviously handled that delicate situation with a great deal support and kindness. I can imagine it being pretty traumatic if handled poorly by some ham-fisted guidance counsellor.
      BTW, I’ve never read P & P either. But I’m waiting for a reall good movie version that everybody says is real close to the plot of the text. LOL

      Like

    • crbwrites says:

      That’s a great story, Jenn. Teachers who notice more or less “invisible” disabilities can make such a difference in your future. I’m glad you had such an observant teacher. .

      Like

  8. Laurie Ryan says:

    I love stories about teachers who inspired up. Thanks for telling us about Ms. Wilson. She sounds like a no-nonsense, encouraging person. Kids need more of those in their lives. 🙂

    Like

    • crbwrites says:

      Teachers are sooooo important. Along with all those extracurricular volunteers. Parents can’t raise children in a vacuum.

      Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yes, Laurie. And imagine many of those teachers were making $5k & $6k per year when I was coming through school. Difficult to imagine how people like Mrs. Wilson (for Chris) and many I knew survived on such low salaries … and managed to give it 100%.

      Like

  9. I love this! And interestingly enough, my favorite teacher was Mrs. Wilson and she taught English – 10th grade grammar, to be exact. We became “outside of school” friends, having breakfast together on occasion and visiting her house, and her daughter and I rode horses together. Mrs. Wilson and I still exchange Christmas cards almost 20 years after I was in her class, and I’ve never told her I’ve been published. ;c)

    Like

    • crbwrites says:

      After high school, I left town and have not kept up with Mrs. Wilson (though I hear she’s still in the old neighborhood, retired and enjoying her grandchildren). But like you, both my daughter and my mother had influential English teachers that they became friends with. I refuse to dwell on what I’ve missed by roaming the Southeast. I know my high school years were blessed.

      Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      That’s awesome that you’ve maintainte contact, Sarah. You say you’ve never told her you’re published … but I’ll be she knows somehow. Teachers are intuitive. And, as some of my teachers often said, “I have eyes in the back of my head”.

      Like

  10. BettyBookWorm says:

    Mrs. Wilson also changed my life, in a stranger-than-fiction way. An intellectual snob, I was in the throes of a purely physical crush on an athlete in the class and could barely keep my eyes off him each day (which is likely why I don’t remember the five paragraph essays?) He was obviously so wrong for me in every way, almost certainly have ruined my life, but I was blinded by shy good-girl lust and thought him wonderful, practically trembling in his presence…until Mrs. Wilson assigned him as my partner in a project. I was thrilled at first, but little by little my crush slipped away. For all of his smooth moves on the basketball court, he was a terrible writer, a disgrace with grammar, and worse, didn’t even CARE that he was lacking in this area, while words to me are near-sacred. Ironically, the book project was on Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage”…this erstwhile love of my life was instead the tawdry waitress Mildred to my Philip Carey. “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it” would have become my reality had not Mrs. Wilson subtly and brilliantly opened my eyes and cured me. I will always be grateful!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Welcome to our group blog, Betty. Hope you’ll come back again. I’m here on Thursdays and on the other days you’ll find words of enlightenment from the REsident Foxes.
      I love your anecdote about Mrs. Wilson. And from what I understand of this fine lady, she knew exactly what she was doing by paring you with the jock. She couldn’t have played that hand more skillfully.
      I wish I could have met this teacher.

      Like

    • crbwrites says:

      I just have to laugh. Well-written!

      Like

  11. jeff7salter says:

    Well, folks, it’s been a long day here in Possum Trot … so I’m signing off.
    My appreciation to Chris Bailey for agreeing to be my guest today.
    And thanks to any viewers for whom this was your first visit to our group blog. Come back any weekday, but especially on Hound day (Thursdays).
    Good night!

    Like

  12. crbwrites says:

    Thanks, Jeff. A fun day on Memory Lane. Later!

    Like

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