Thank You, Ms. Munro

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of

I was introduced to creative writing by my high school Freshman English teacher, Dee Munro. She was the first teacher to turn writing into something more than book reports and term papers. She is responsible for lighting the flame of what would later become a burning passion. While I don’t remember all of our writing assignments, two still stand out in my mind.

For one assignment, she posted a picture on her bulletin board and we had to write a story to go with it. The next week, she posted another picture. Once again, we had to write a story that went along with the picture but, it also had to tie into the story from the week before. This went on for several weeks. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the pictures – some clearer than others. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that the pictures came from a Lord of the Rings calendar. (I didn’t read LOTR until introduced to it in college by my boyfriend.) Now, I know that one of my favorite pictures was actually Galadriel’s Mirror.

The second most memorable assignment was when Ms. Munro played a piece of music, A Night on Bald Mountain, and we had to write a story to go with it. This sticks out in my mind because the story was supposed to be completed in class. However, when the hour was up, I was nowhere near finished. I requested, and received, permission to turn it in at the end of the day. I then proceeded to do something I had never done before – I worked on that story during all of my other classes for the remainder of the day. You see, I was one of those nauseatingly good kids who never got into trouble. I always did what I was supposed to do. Part of it was just my desire to avoid conflict at all costs. The other part was, my mother was a teacher. I knew that if I ever got in trouble, she would know about it within minutes. However, my budding desire to write was strong enough to override my fear of getting in trouble.

From that point on, I wanted to write, but I didn’t. My perfectionism was strong enough to override that desire. What if I wasn’t good at it? What if I couldn’t come up with any stories? What if…? What if…? It wasn’t until I stumbled across the world of fan fiction a few years ago that I threw caution to the wind and began writing. This, in turn, led to the discovery that writing is my passion in life. So, thank you Ms. Munro, wherever you are. Without you, I wouldn’t be doing what I love.

Oh, and as for my fear of not being able to come up with story ideas? Like most of my fears, it turned out to be unfounded. It seems that the more I write, the more story ideas I come up with. I’ve currently got enough ideas to keep me busy for years to come!

Which of your teachers made the biggest difference in your life?



  1. Ami says:

    I have 3.

    The first was my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Herko. My family life was pretty bad, and she knew it. She knew that school, and reading, were my sanctuaries. She was gentle with me, and seemed to know what I needed. I didn’t find out that she knew until I was an adult. My beloved grandmother consulted with her, and the two worked together to ensure that I had a safe place. I’m eternally grateful for that.

    The 2nd was my junior English teacher. She pushed me and challenged me. When I turned in book reports the day after the book was assigned, she assigned more — and harder — books. In the end, I conceded after tackling Ulysses by James Joyce. She encouraged my writing, and was the first person to teach me to “show, not tell”.

    The 3rd is my grandmother. I would not have passed Trigonometry in high school without her! She patiently taught me everything that I wasn’t learning in school.

    • Isabella Norse says:

      I’m glad you had so many teachers that made a difference. While I knew early on that teaching was not the career for me, I think that those who are truly called to teach do so in order to touch lives.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I love the idea of using music as a writing prompt. I’ve never really used prompts, but that sounds interesting. Might be a good thing to try if I ever get stuck.

    It’s too bad our adult selves talk us out of things we desire. Glad you ignored the perfectionist voice and went back to writing!

    • Isabella Norse says:

      Me too, Carrie! :-) I know a lot of authors that listen to music as they write, but I have to have quiet. I’m too easily distracted by sound.

  3. Lynda says:

    You and I attended the same high school and I had the pleasure of having Ms. Munro the year before you did. A Night on Bald Mountain… what an assignment!!! It was unlike anything I had ever experienced or would ever experience again.

    The other 2 teachers that most influenced me were Mattie Middlebrooks for Geometry. I will never forget that she posted her home phone number on the chalkboard and said she would be willing to help us after school was over with just a phone call. I learned after high school I’m dyslexic. But, she knew already I was. I was on the phone with Mrs. Middlebrooks 2-3 times a week seeking help because I had inadvertently flipped my numbers and couldn’t see it. She was patient and kind and walked me through all the steps to get the correct answer. I still have fond memories of her…

    The second teacher was Caroline Phillips. She taught me Chemistry. I had some of the same problems because of my dyslexia. She took the time to painstakingly explain equations to me and helped me understand what I had a very hard time understanding. She also introduced me to her daughter, who became a lifelong friend and someone I would affectionately refer to as my “sister”. That friendship still lasts through time and distance.

    Some things are timeless…

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