Once upon a time, not far from here, and only a bit further from now, there was a tree. Not just any tree, mind, this was The Story Tree. It was an ancient cottonwood: great and gnarly, with niches just sized for a little girl. The Story Tree was a wellspring of inspiration for one such girl. At twenty-one years old, here I sit, remembering the earliest sparks of my passion for English. Every week, or whenever the wander-itch took me, I would visit the tree and tell it a story. Sometimes I had company, but more often it was me, my bike, and The Story Tree. My young mind was convinced that books would sprout amidst the leafy branches, if I could just tell it the right tales.
Later, science classes informed me that books do not in fact grow on trees; but my love for words remained. It manifested in a multitude of ways. I read voraciously, finding that words could take me to new places, captivate me with concepts, inform me of world goings on, and transplant me into the minds of others, foreign cultures, deep oceans, deeper space, and so much more! As I grew older, my enchantment only increased. I began to consider what else could be done with these wonderful words. I took to writing short stories, started a few novels, and imagined writing and illustrating children’s books. I edited papers for friends and classmates, all the while refining my own writing style.
The more I experimented, the more I was taken in. Surely, I began to speculate, others could benefit from my interest in the English language. I looked into writing careers, and wondered of what lasting value I could be. I wanted not only to work with words, but also to explore a multitude of fields. Not only to explore, but be able to pass on what I learned along the way. It was during these months that the idea of teaching English began to creep up on me. Could I? Would it be possible? At first I thought small. Tutoring, mentoring, helping home-school parents, and all the while working as a proof-reader.
As I looked through the programs at the University of Northern Colorado, I began to question my initial choice of a Bachelors Degree in English. What impact could I truly make, in that arena? I wondered, and began to look more carefully at the education programs. ‘Teaching helps people,’ I thought, ruminating over a catalogue. ‘Today, communication is an indispensable skill.’ I could pursue my passion and provide valuable proficiency. Continuing my education in English, with an emphasis in secondary teaching, became not just a logical answer, but grew into a fascination. Indeed, it may yet grow into a passion equal to my love of reading, telling, and hearing stories. In this world, cottonwoods certainly do not sprout books. The laws of nature do not, however, prevent me from becoming a Story Tree to others!