Day 68: (Write About Mentors) They Made Me Who I Am Today

There are many people whom I attribute my capabilities and knowledge; however, the ones whom have inspired me and taught me the most were my 12th grade English teacher, and my paternal grandfather.  Collectively, they made me who I am today through motivating me to bring forth the best out of me.

When I was a senior in high school, I took college preparatory English, where we studies the works of Homer, William Shakespeare, Sophocles and many other classic and ancient writers.  At the beginning of the class, I was struggling.  On my first exam I took, I received a failing grade.  My teacher worked with me, teaching me the most effective way to take notes.  The grade I got first on my first essay for the course was C-.  I was always used to getting no lower than an A-.  My first report card for the class was a D+.  This taught me the importance of hard work.   I gutted the course out, struggled a lot at the beginning, but by the end of the school year, I brought my overall grade for the course up to an A-.  I went from being at the very bottom of the classroom to the top.  She taught me the correct way for writing essays consisting of literary criticism and literary interpretation.  From her I also learned the art of interpreting literature.  It’s because of her the skills I acquired through her class, I was prepared for college.  She prepared me for college.  It’s because of her I was able to succeed in college, and get a descent score on the college English placement test.  Everyone who took her course passed the college English placement test flawlessly.  Those who didn’t take her class in high school had to take another class before they could take regular college English in college, because they failed the college English placement test.

My paternal grandfather taught me the importance of education.  Whenever he’s visit my family from Greece, he’d encourage my siblings and me to pick up a book and read.  He stressed the importance of exercise the mind.  It didn’t matter what subject the homework assignments were for, he always encouraged me to do my schoolwork first no matter how relevant or insignificant the work seemed to me.  All school work is important.  When he visited us in 1979, he tutored me in fractions when I was in the 4th grade.  He wasn’t able to help me with my other studies, because he didn’t know the English language very well.  However, he was able to help me with my math homework, because numbers translate well in most languages around the world.  His next visit to here in the United States was in 1990.  I was a sophomore in college.  During this time, I was taking an art course in the summer time.  The only homework I had at the time was a pencil sketch, and a painting I had to do for the class.  I was chatting with him and my mother as soon as I arrived home from school, when he said in the Greek language, “Kiki, honey, if you have homework to do, I suggest you do that first.  Don’t worry about me.  Your mother is here to keep me company.”

I responded by telling him, “I only have a pencil sketch and a painting to complete for my art class.”

He said, “Even so, it still important, regardless of what type of homework it is.  Art class homework has just as much importance as your other type of work does, honey.  Please go do your homework assignment first.  The is nothing more important than education.”

Upon completing my pencil sketch and my painting for the class, I showed them to him.  He was very proud and told me how beautiful he thought they were.

Two days had passed since I had turned the assignments in to my teacher.  My grandfather asked me if I got the grades back for them.  I explained to him about my teacher still grading them.  When I did finally get the pencil sketch and the painting returned to me, I was ecstatic and amazed to see that I got A’s on both.  The art teacher I had was very particular.  For a student to get an A on any assignment in the class, the teacher has to be really impressed enough the art work to give the A.  I showed my grandfather my grades.  He was so very proud of me, and encouraged me to keep up with my art.  However, I only dabbled in it years later, because my interests lay in the writing field.  Even after years had passed, I sent my grandfather some of my works of poetry an uncle of mine translated into the Greek language.  When I talked to him, he told me he read them over and over to learn from them, and he showed them to his priest and everyone in his village, because he was so proud.  He died about seven or eight years ago in his sleep, because his heart stopped.  However, I’ll always remember him, and be grateful for his encouragement he had given me throughout the years.

© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

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