Mexico’s Truth Commission investigating the mass disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College may finally solve the 8 year old crime that inspired the Detective Emilia Cruz novel 43 MISSING. As more details are uncovered, it appears that...
My favorite teacher was Mr. Taverna. He was the only male teacher in the elementary school and undoubtedly the most famous. Everyone in town knew that Mr. Taverna was a great teacher and it was quite a coup if you got in his fourth grade class.
First, his math technique was called Delicious Fractions. We got to have fudge and pizza while we learned math! Second, there were his stories. Mr. Taverna wrote a series about a mythical town in Italy featuring Professor Pasta and the pepper bomb. He read an excerpt to the class once a week. We lived for that magical once-a-week story hour. It was never long enough.
Years later, as I began writing my own stories, I realized how lucky I was to have experienced his class and the natural creativity he offered his students. As I struggle with the intricacies of my own mystery series, I wonder now how he came up with the plots. I wonder, too, if Mr. Taverna’s stories were meant to ease concerns of youngsters living in the shadow of a Strategic Air Command base during the height of the Cold War.
But mostly I wonder why I was lucky enough to have Mr. Taverna as an influence in my life. He was the first person I ever met who wrote stories others wanted to hear. I wanted to do that, too. How did I end up in the right classroom at the perfect time, ready to be impressed by an authority figure who showed that it was astoundingly okay to make stuff up and write it down?
I’d like to think every child is lucky enough to encounter at least one influential teacher but also know that plenty of children around the world never get any decent schooling at all.
As a writer, I want to see global literacy rates improve. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the global literacy rate is 86.3%, which isn’t too bad. But there are some countries like Afghanistan, Chad, and Mali where the rate is 40% or less.
Literacy is just one indicator of well-being but it’s also a tool to help children and CompassionBloggers.com is doing a great job of doing just that. Bloggers affiliated with the site spread the word and visit child advocacy programs in places like Nicaragua where I saw firsthand the meagre educational opportunities for children in rural areas.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I’m a strong supporter of Water.org for the same reason. Global communities under stress need the basics in order to boost education and become economically viable.
As I write this post, in my mind’s eye I see Mr. Taverna: Curly gray hair, wide 1970’s tie, an open notebook on his lap as he reads the latest thrilling installment. He showed us that we could do more than be a bunch of small-town kids.
And he did it with compassion.
Who was your favorite teacher?
New release dates! All three full-length novels in the Prohibition-era Galliano Club series are scheduled for release: 20 October 2022: MURDER AT THE GALLIANO CLUB 19 January 2023: BLACKMAIL AT THE GALLIANO CLUB 16 March 2023: REVENGE AT THE GALLIANO...
THE GUILTY DIE TWICE offers a memorable cast of characters, two pivotal crimes, lots of deliciously grubby political machinations, and both sides of the death penalty argument. The writing is both fluid and precise, without (thankfully) lots of legal jargon. The...
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