Memories

MemoriesPictured, are Chelsea (Richards) Wagner and Alicia Purcell. Provided photo.

When I was younger, I had a thousand job opportunities lying ahead of me. As a child does, I thought about how I would become a cop, firefighter, and eventually I set my heart on becoming a veterinarian. It’s nine years later and here’s what I know: I had completely overlooked one of the things I loved the most – writing. 

In second grade, I had a knack for the art of writing. My teacher, Chelsea Wagner, helped to inspire and coax the best of work out of me. As second graders, my class and I were a passionate bunch. We took on every assignment and project with zest. Wagner led us to hone that energy and create new ideas.

Memories
Releasing Monarch Butterflies. Provided photo.

Our class took on many endeavors. For example, we hatched and nurtured monarch butterflies throughout the year. The majestic animals were something out of a fairytale, and Wagner was quick to teach us that the beauty of the project was not only to watch them grow, but to free them when they were ready.

We also put on a play known as “The Bremen Town Musicians.” Our small class found joy within the acting and writing of the play that was originally derived from a book.

Memories
The cast of the Bremen Town Play. Provided photo.

But my favorite memory, by far, is when we put up a paper rainforest. Our classroom was strung with green leaves and vines, paper animals hidden within every nook and cranny. We used our hands to create jaguars and decorated monkeys with buttons. The classroom became a storybook and us, its characters.

Many of these memories were lost to me until my junior year of high school when I decided to service learn as a journalist. I emailed Chelsea Wagner, my second grade teacher who inspired so much in so little time.

Memories
Chelsea Wagner’s paper jungle and her class. Provided photo.

I was thrilled when I heard back from her, and we both got to work figuring out a schedule.

We began working almost immediately, co-authoring a piece and editing the others together. I found that same inspiration I had so many years ago while working with her.

We threw ideas back and forth, tweaking stories to our liking. In some ways, she is my teacher. In others, she is a friend.

Her guidance from week to week has become a beacon in my life. I look up to Wagner as a mentor and as a writer. She carries the story with her, writing and shaping it as she goes along. 

Her greatest advice? “Keep writing!” 

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