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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Teaching magic: What our teachers pass on to us

I have the chance to pursue the life I want because of the lessons I’ve learned from my teachers
I’ll always think of my third grade teacher and the magic of writing when I have an apple. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

When I was in third grade, I was fairly certain my teacher introduced me to a powerful form of magic: writing. 

My life has not been the same since. 

Not only did the concept she passed on impact my life in still-rippling ways, the lesson also convinced me how important and influential teachers are. 

It makes me deeply sad to see teachers I know who have to ask for donations or assistance to get the necessary supplies for their classrooms or struggle to make a living wage. 

I have seen these same people scrape together the barest of materials to create magical lessons, and then give them away freely to the students in their care. I’ve benefitted deeply, and I will never cease to be thankful. 

I don’t clearly remember all the lessons from my elementary school days, but the magic lesson in third grade stands out. 

My teacher was an immediate favorite. Her classroom had homespun decor. She read aloud to us each day, and on Fridays we dressed up and performed plays based on Aesop’s Fables. 

We even learned to sew a quilt and took a field trip to a fabric shop to pick out our materials. 

And in one transformative lesson, she taught us how to write. 

By third grade, we grasped the concepts of spelling and stringing together a sentence, but it was time to learn how to do a bit more. 

My teacher told our class to write a short story about eating an apple. Before we began, we were supposed to really think about the act of eating an apple and how we would describe it to someone to make them taste, see or feel it themselves. 

When we finally laid our pencils down on our desks, several students were called on to read what they had written aloud. 

While each student had interpreted the task slightly different, the results were similar due to our limited vocabulary and writing skills. Each short story was something akin to: “I took the red apple. I sat down beneath the tree. I bit the apple. It was sweet. It was good.” 

This seemed acceptable to me, even if it was a little boring. 

Then, my teacher began to read the example she wrote. I do not remember the exact words, but I remember the way it made me feel. 

She described walking up to a twisted, craggy apple tree and looking for the best apple. 

The ripest one drew her attention with its bright red hue, with undertones of gold shining through. She reached, stretching to grasp it and pulled the apple from the tree with a satisfying snap. 

Apple in hand, she sat in the cool, crisp grass in the shade of the tree. The dirt was soft, but the tree’s bark and knots were hard against her back. 

Before eating the apple she rubbed it hard against her pant leg, making it shine so clearly she could see her face in it. Then, the bite. 

The apple was hard, it resisted for a moment before yielding to her teeth with a crunch. The flavor that filled her mouth was sweet and tart, a refreshing treat on a summer afternoon. 

I sat transfixed. I thought I had fulfilled the assignment by describing the color of the apple in my work, but when my teacher read, I could almost see the images forming in my mind. I could feel the grass and the tree, and I could taste the fruit. 

I knew we could put words on paper, but I didn’t know we could do it like that. 

I loved reading from the moment I could do so on my own, thanks to my kindergarten and first grade teachers, but I had never considered that someone created the stories I consumed. I had certainly never thought that I could do something similar. 

Now, so many years later, I’m working on my degree so that I can have a career in professional writing. If I had a different teacher or did not receive that magical lesson that day I could be on an entirely different path.

And, while my third grade teacher is a standout in my memory, she is not the only one. 

In fourth grade, we were the first class our teacher had ever taught on her own, and she poured her heart and soul into the task. She was sensitive and kind, and always looked out for the quiet or underprivileged among us. 

There was my sixth grade teacher who would turn a blind eye to allow me and my friends to stay inside during recess breaks writing long, collaborative stories on the classroom computer.

In eighth grade, my teacher reinforced my interest in writing, leaving constructive criticism on papers that exceeded the word count because I was too caught up in the story to wrap it up succinctly. 

Most recently, I think of my first class in my first semester at university. My internal monologue was one of overwhelming self-doubt, “Why am I here? Who do I think I am? Why do I think I can do this?”

But my instructor, through kind but firm reinforcement on every assignment, seemed to say, “You belong here, keep going, you’ve got this.” 

And here I am still, farther away from graduation than I would like, but closer than I’ve ever been before.

I don’t know where I’d be without the instructors and teachers who have shaped my life and given me the knowledge I need to succeed. From elementary school to university, each one has left their mark.

I have the chance to pursue the life I want because of the lessons I’ve learned from my teachers. I have the tools and the framework they have given me, and the possibilities they create feel magical. 

Heather Taylor can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Heather Taylor, Copy Editor
Heather Taylor is a journalism major at Chico State. This is her third semester with The Orion. She has worked as a reporter and copy editor. Outside of school, Taylor enjoys reading, collecting vinyl records, hiking and kayaking, making crochet projects and spending time with her pets. 

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    Jerry L // Jan 27, 2024 at 9:49 pm

    What a great piece!