Ms. Browne This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 30, 2010
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“Denise is writing!” I told my mother excitedly after school last week. Denise, my best friend, who is incredibly hard on herself when it comes to her verbal, analytical, and writing skills. She would often tell me how her writing would be enough to make a reader cringe. “That’s great! What caused the sudden change in attitude?” “Well, I don’t think it was really all that sudden of a change, really. Constant patience and encouragement from a great teacher sparked her interest.”

This year, I started high school. English has always been my class I excel in the most, the class I enjoy the most. I checked my schedule to see who my teacher for the year would be, Ms. Browne is the name I found. She was new to the school district, and nobody had any idea what to expect of her. “I bet she’s the stereotypical crazy English teacher type,” said one of my friends. I hate stereotypes, and she’s not crazy, so I won’t say that. But, she’s the kind of teacher who is constantly moving, always projecting her energy throughout the classroom. She’s intense at times, yes, her biggest pet peeve being respect. The thing is that, intense as Ms. Browne can be at times, she is a remarkable teacher.

Denise has always struggled with English. She loves reading and words, but often has a hard time deciphering their meaning. She is one of the most mellow and laid-back people I know, and yet words cause her intense emotional stress. She knows and is fine with the fact that I am in love with literature and words, but at times I can see the sadness in her eyes as she reads my writing, or the desire on the tip of her tongue when she hears a poet read aloud their work. Ms. Browne saw her struggling and made sure to keep encouraging Denise to reach her own personal best, not to strive for perfection. She would remind Denise every so often to keep her chin up, or just say random positive comments to her. A little push was all she needed, Denise is now writing haikus better than I can.

I tend to relate more to people who have a sense of humor and humanity. I have always surrounded myself with interesting people. She is all of these. In the middle of class, she will stop and tell a hilarious story about a goat or about how her cat’s name; Smelly, originated. She is incredibly silly, no question about it, but she’s also deep. She does an amazing job of relating to people and discussing meaningful things with them. The memory that resonates most strongly in my mind, is when we started reading our first novel in class. Being an adopted child, the story of a young boy being abandoned by his mother at an orphanage really hit home for me. I’ve always loved literature, always described it as my “safe haven”, putting my full trust into it’s capabilities. It scared me that this “safe haven” of mine could make me feel so vulnerable. Ms. Browne sensed something was wrong, and talked to me about it after class. I gave her my usual reply of “nothing’s wrong,” but as those words escaped my lips I sucked in air trying to get them back. We both knew that “I’m fine” wasn’t true. I ventured a quick glance up to see what her reaction would be, and found kind eyes. I was able to move past “I’m fine.”

Another thing that really sticks with me, is the fact that I wrote truthfully, openly, and didn’t hold anything back in my writing. That’s never happened before. Like I said earlier, writing is such a personal thing, something I don’t want just anyone to read, for fear of rejection, laughter at moments not intended to be funny, and the like. But with Ms. Browne reading my writing, I felt like it was safe. In fact, I knew it was safe, I never had a doubt in my mind. She laughed at all the right places, was silent when the piece required it, and always, always had an open-mind.

Ms. Browne taught my grade so much this year. She taught us about self-expression, not being afraid to be ourselves. She bears no reservations and imperfections are not an inconvenience to her. It’s great when someone, especially a teacher, can become very human and encourage you to reach for new heights and try for your own personal best. She also taught me that sometimes, a person who isn’t received well by the societal “norm” is more admirable than someone who works too hard at pressing the normal button. When people ask me who my favorite teacher is, I reply Ms. Browne with no hesitation. I like the fact that I can truthfully say I had a teacher who was absolutely, irrevocably, and indelibly compassionate, encouraging, and patient. “Denise is writing!”

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