It's a question from a grade school essay, I'm sure. But it keeps getting repeated. In job interviews, in random conversation, in online dating questionnaires.
Who has most influenced you?
Way back when, when I wanted to impress teachers, and likely my dad, I used to say things like Einstein and Leonardo daVinci. And I'm sure it's still a little true today. Yes, I'm that much of a nerd.
But now I'd be much more apt to say friends, family and a handful of teachers. I talk about my friends' influence all the time. And I've described my family's influences. But the teachers I rarely mention.
There was my advisor in grad school. In college there were my coach, my academic advisor, and my Oceanography and Asian Religions Profs. In high school there were my coaches, the yearbook advisor/English teacher and my Sociology/Psychology teacher.
But the three biggest influences in all of my learning years were my 7th grade science and 9th grade Biology teacher (same guy), my 6th grade and 3rd grade teachers.
Last night I was lucky enough to get to talk to one over dinner. To realize she thinks I'm as memorable as I think she is. My third grade teacher and I had a conversation in which she remembered my favorite books from twenty some odd years ago.
I truly believe she was the teacher that really solidified my love of reading and writing. That made me realize with a little hard work, nearly everything is possible.
I'm so very happy my mom started teaching in our old school with her. That they became friends. That she still hangs out with my mom, and by extension me.
Sometimes it takes a little dinner conversation with a couple of women who helped to make you who you are to remind you exactly who that is. Thanks Mom and Mrs. R.