Acceptance Speech: All Area Arts Awards
May 2, 2019
~ A tribute to Mrs. Roethke and teachers everywhere ~
Thank you for this award today and congratulations to all the nominees. I would like to mention that I would not be here today except for my 8th grade English teacher at South Intermediate School in the 50's who gave me and all of her students a firm understanding of proper English that we carried with us all of our lives. She called upon me to read a sentence upon the chalk-board and I told her from the back of the room that I was unable to see it. She graciously seated me in the front of the room and called my mom. A week later I had a new pair of eye-glasses. She kept me in the front for the rest of the year. I know what you are thinking, "She needed to keep this hooligan up front where she could slap him up from time to time!" No, no that is not it. Every week I would turn in a short story based upon that week's spelling words and she would always return it to me with the red ink notation A+ Well done Reynold. I am so proud of you!
Did I mention her name was Mrs. Roethke, the sister of Theodore Roethke the Pulitzer Prize winning poet who is Saginaw's claim to fame?
All of us loved Mrs. Roethke. She often said to me, "You have a gift," and always had the highest praises for my writing skills. She ran the classroom like General Patton directing his troops and we were always in step with Mrs. Roethke as we knew she was something special. One could sense that something magical was in the air whenever we entered her classroom each day. She gave us a gift...and that was a firm understanding of English that we could carry for the rest of our lives.
Let's jump 5 decades later to my retirement years in which I found time to follow my heart and write novels that received international acclaim. And now, to this moment being recognized within my beloved hometown, Saginaw. I cannot help but think that Mrs. Roethke is with me now, I am certainly a part of her legacy that will never end. I can hear her clearly whispering to me, "Well done Reynold! I am so proud of you."
In conclusion, I would like to say God bless teachers everywhere as they are surely the angels that walk among us. It is up to the rest of us to merely open our eyes if we wish to see them clearly. Thank you for this great honor! I will treasure this moment of the rest of my life. Thank you!