National Day on Writing Has Special Meaning This Year

National Day on Writing Has Special Meaning This Year
Cary Junior High- ready for National Day on Writing

 

Today is National Writing Day.  It has special meaning this year in District 26, as it has been dedicated to the memory of an exceptional teacher- Pat Sylvester.   This well-loved teacher passed away after losing her battle with cancer last year.  In her honor, the writing day has been renamed Sylvester’s Symposium of Writing.

Mrs. Sylvester had been instrumental in bringing the writing day, which is organized by the National Council of Teachers of English, to the students of Cary.  Students will stop what they are doing this morning and write for twenty-six minutes on any topic they choose.

Mrs. Sylvester  taught  5th, 6th, and 8th grades and worked in the school district for over thirty years.   My son was lucky enough to have Mrs. Sylvester for 6th grade.  She was the first staff member I met at the junior high.  It was a stressful time in the district due to financial problems that resulted in deep budget cuts and school closings.  The closing of one building, necessitated that my son’s class was suddenly moved up to the junior high.

Any concerns I had about the move were instantly calmed at her parent orientation.   She had a protective way about her and convinced us that the best interests of the students were her first priority.  Impressed with her background, I was hoping my younger children would eventually get a chance to benefit from having her as their teacher.

She was adept at engaging and relating to this particular age group.  It was obvious from the way she talked to the children and the way they responded.  Mrs. Sylvester  was  the type of teacher who had students visiting her classroom and “hanging out” there after school,  even if she was not their teacher.

She expected her students to attend parent conferences.  I remember her asking my son what he wanted to be when he grew up.  She talked about his strengths and interests and how he could broaden them.  She set high expectations for him to meet.  I distinctly remember her saying   how important it was “not to lose the boys.”   I understood her prophetic advice better later as 8th grade approached and some enthusiasm for learning was wearing off.

Her wake was held on a bitter winter evening.  The lines of people who had come to pay their respects snaked throughout the building.   My sons and I waited for hours to offer condolences and we still weren’t able speak to her family at the front of the room.

There could not be a more perfect way to honor this wonderful teacher than with a writing day dedicated to her.   My hope is that after the students take time to write today, they consider writing again.  I wish they could begin to  appreciate writing’s importance and power.  Maybe just a little spark of Mrs. Sylvester’s enthusiasm for writing will be ignited in each of them.

 

Mrs. Sylvester was one of my son’s favorite teachers.

I admired her.

I respected her.

That is why I dropped everything to write for twenty-six minutes today.

 

Parents, if you would like suggestions to help your teenager writer better, visit the website of the National Council of Teachers of English by clicking here.  There are many resources to help improve writing on the site.

 

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    This is such a beautiful story. I think dedicating a writing day to her is a perfect way to show appreciation. I’m sure a lot of students would want to take part, moreover writing is an enjoyable process. It reminds me of numerous writing contests we had in college. Some of best works are still can be found in the internet (you can follow the link to read them). It’s really something to remember, I’m so grateful our professors took time to organize them each year. Anyway, I’m really happy I read this article, thank you!

  • Amy, you are welcome and thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this post! I'm very appreciative. We miss this special teacher.

  • Hi Lisa, this is Jack Sylvester, Pat's son. Thank you so very much for this touching column and commentary about my mom. IfI just came across your article after seeing a post shared with me about this year's writing symposium. Your post is a compliment of who she was and what impact she spread across the district and families throughout Cary over decades in the classroom. Thank you for sharing that and your personal story with us. My best to you, Jack Sylvester

  • In reply to JDsylvester:

    Jack- I appreciate your comments on the post. Our family considers ourselves lucky to have known your mother. Truly an influential teacher and greatly missed. Take care...

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