My Favorite Teacher Stole My Creative Writing Homework

Sometimes we learn valuable life lessons through painful experiences.

It's currently the time of year for me to begin on my team members performance appraisals.  My mind should be focused on starting them, but is divided by the desire to be working instead on my blog.  As you can see, the blog is where I'm at now,  At work I'm doing the right thing, I promise, and am crazily working through my extensive to do list amid all day interruptions from my staff.

I'm at home and have had my shower.  After that, could hardly wait while the computer went through it's warm up so I could get logged on.

This morning on my way to work, I was thinking about an incident I'd addressed the day before.  Accountability in my position as a supervisor is crucial and I have learned to immediately address an issue before it can escalate into a bigger problem.

Accountability is very important.  With this thought flashed the memory of me as a student in middle school in my favorite class that was led by the teacher I liked the most.  The female students all seemed to love him and would linger around after class to talk to him.  He was a friendly caring kind of teacher.  Had a sense of humor and was fun to be around.

Although it's been 40 years now since this happened, it left behind a disappointment that hasn't really faded over the years.

The class had been given an assignment to write a short story.  I can't remember now how many pages it had to be, but it wasn't all that short.  I do know that I'd written a pretty lengthy story.

I loved creative writing.  It was what I wanted to do "when I grew up".  That makes me smile now.

My mom and I discussed the assignment and I told her the setting for my story was  inspired by our oasis at Grandby Lake.  This was the spot we hiked to when we camped at Granby.  Our destination was a place with a shallow brook along the Roaring Fork Trail, not quite a mile from where we started our trek in the Arapaho Campground area.

Fiction was my choice for the story.  I loved the Chronicles Of Narnia series and what I wrote was kind of similar to that style.

In the tale I wove, there was a teenage girl about the same age I was, and of course there was a prince (like all young girls dream about).

The story I wrote is a vague memory now with just bits and pieces recollected.  There was an evil sorceress or wizard that had taken over the kingdom.  Animals talked.  Trees could move.  A river magically changed direction carrying my heroine and her animal friends up the mountain into battle.

At the time I was writing the story, the words were flowing easily onto paper and I was amazed myself by what I wrote.  I felt incredible and loved what I had written.

When mom proofread it for me, I could see she loved my story as well.  She told me it was really good.

This assignment was before we had a home computer.  I had submitted the story in handwritten form. It was written in pencil so I could erase and make corrections when needed.

Assignments were turned in and a week or two went by before the teacher gave the stories back to us with our grades.

When he got to me, he said that I got an A+ on it but he couldn't give mine back to me.  I wanted it and asked him why not.

He told me he was sorry and he knew he should have asked permission first, but the story was so good that he had felt compelled to enter it in a writing contest for me.

As soon as the words left his mouth, I could read it in his eyes that he wasn't being truthful.

I asked, "You sent the original?  Not a copy?"

He said that was correct, that he had sent my original and didn't make a copy of it.

I wanted to know who he sent it to,  He told me he didn't remember who it was.

When I got home, I shared what had happened with my mom.  She agreed that he had stolen it, and didn't believe he had sent it in to a contest.  The story was good and he had decided he wanted it and was going to edit and sell it himself she informed me.

I knew that she was right about it.  The next day she came to school with me and I remember her asking him about it.  He told her the same thing he had told me,  apologizing for not asking first.  He also said she didn't look old enough to be my mom and we looked like sisters.

He's flattering her!  I wasn't surprised by him making her feel good about herself.  That's the way he was, and he had effectively changed the subject.  She left smiling, with me in tow feeling sad that we hadn't had any luck getting him to give me my story back.  He didn't even offer to try to obtain a copy.

What he told us wasn't true anyway.  I knew he hadn't sent it to a contest.  He stole my story and was going to sell it as if it was his own work.  Like he had the right to do that.

Now at 53, I realize he was not held accountable like he should have been.  A teacher should not get away with stealing a student's story and have nothing be done to try to stop him from doing it again.

My mother, at the time, didn't know what to do about it.  She could have not accepted his apology and taken it higher.  I wish she had done that.

Maybe though it would have made things worse.  Someone that steals a story and lies to cover it up, isn't going to fess up and own it, especially when it could cost them their job.  Would he have lied further and said that I didn't turn anything in at all if my mom had taken the matter over his head to the school principal?  Perhaps that's why she didn't.  So that he wouldn't take it out on me and alter my grades.

I'm pretty certain I'm not the only one that has had something like this happen to them.  That there are others who have had something they wrote as a student stolen by a teacher.

Due to this experience, I always make a copy of my work before I turn it in.  It's painful to lose something great you wrote and have no back up for it.  Recreating as good as before isn't very likely.  You can try, but always in the back of your mind is the feeling that the one you lost was the better one.  Do you agree?