A Letter to Mrs. Edrienne Votto
"Dear Mrs. Votto
Speaking with a co-worker this morning regarding high school memories, your classes sprung to the forefront. My co-worker asked me which were my favorite classes in high school and why? I told her that despite my dyslexia and abhorrent spelling that English was my favorite class, specifically my AP English class with Ms. Votto during my senior year. All of the various books came rushing back to me, “Light In August”, “The Invisible Man”, and “King Lear”, as did the discussions on the meaning of the text and the style of writing used by each author. The topics we discussed and your jovial personality whizzed around my mind. I started to remember little details about that second period class I shared with Ayde Gonzalez, Karen Beard, Nicole Lennon, Lisa Hall, and others.
The one thing that stood out the most in my mind was the fact that I never thanked you for all you taught me. I realize now, some sixteen years later, that of all the education I received during my years at Venice, it was the skills you gave me in interpretation of literature, the underlying meaning of text and the power of words that were the most useful in preparing me for my life and my career. Yes, I went to school to become a music teacher and did in fact receive a BA in Music, yet after teaching and leading choirs, I was drawn into writing.
Now, my writing is not that of the fictional novelist, although I have written several short stories and publish my works on my own website. No, primarily I write grants; applications for funding from federal, state, local governments, and large foundations. I convince people to give money for whatever various project happens to be my focus. For five years I did this for an Indian tribe in Northern California, writing several successful grants that brought housing, a transit system, and nutrition services to a rural reservation. Today, I work for Wichita Public Schools and most of my job centers on budget narratives, the application of the regulations of the No Child Left Behind Act, EDGAR, and other federal legislation applicable to school districts. I spend much of my day interrupting the meaning of the law and how it applies to the various grants I help to manage, creating training material to be passed out to teachers and administrators who coordinate efforts at their buildings, and training others to read the gobbledygook that passes for legislation these days.
If it hadn’t been for your perseverance in teaching me despite all of my own personal obstacles, I don't think I would be as successful or happy with my life and my career as I am today. You helped nurture a love of literature and the written word in general within me. Thank you for being my teacher and one of the fonder memories of my youth. The day you retire from teaching will be a sad one for all those students who will miss out of the experience of learning from you.