"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
Last week, we celebrated teachers everywhere during Teacher Appreciation Week. From 12-hour days to spending nearly $500 dollars of their own money each year on classroom supplies, teachers are some of the hardest working individuals out there, sacrificing time, money, and sometimes even their sanity to shape and nurture the next generation. Talk to any teacher, and they’ll tell you that it’s a juggling act. Not only do they have to to build effective lessons that meet individual learning needs while also making things fun and engaging, teachers must also attend to the social and emotional needs of their students. To be a teacher, you have to be persistent, resilient, creative, and have a deep understanding of humans of all ages. So, it isn’t surprising to learn that some of the greatest authors of all time used to be teachers.
While they may not be educators in the traditional sense, authors take us to new places, introduce us to new people, share new ideas and, in sometimes subtle, sometimes plain ways, teach us about the world and the people in it.
In honor of all the incredible teachers out there who have shaped our lives and opened up countless young minds to the joys of reading and writing, we have put together a list of 5 famous authors who once made their living in the classroom. We hope you enjoy--and then go thank a teacher!
Robert Lee Frost, born March 26, 1874, was an American poet, but he had several other jobs before being honored with numerous Pulitzer Prizes. From the beginning, writing and teaching were in his blood. His father was an editor at the San Francisco Bulletin, as well as a teacher. Though Frost tragically lost his dad when he was just a child, it seems that he managed to pick up his parent’s passion for writing and sharing the English language.
After graduating from high school, Frost attended Dartmouth College, but soon dropped out to work several jobs, including co-teaching a class of boys along with his mother. After his time with the boys’ school, Frost tried to make a go of farming. While the tranquil setting of the farm inspired many of his most popular poems, it unfortunately proved not to be the career for him. Having failed as a farmer, Robert returned to his teaching roots and taught English at New Hampshire’s Pinkerton Academy from 1906-1911. In his later years, he also went on to teach at several higher institutions of learning, including the New Hampshire Normal School (now Plymouth State University), Amherst College, and the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College.
"I think that I've had a very strange life."
Joanne Rowling, born July 31, 1965, is one of the most globally recognized (and certainly one of the wealthiest!) authors of all time. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter book series, which has sold more than 500 million copies, been adapted for the screen, and won multiple awards. However, her path to world-renowned author was anything but straight and had multiple stops along the way--including a stop in the classroom.
Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter in 1986 after which she worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary while also writing essays and, eventually, Harry Potter. The idea for the story of the boy wizard famously came to her while on a delayed trip from Manchester to London in 1990. Though she began writing almost immediately afterwards, the first book in the series wouldn’t be published for seven more years.
In between that first lightning bolt of inspiration and publication, Rowling picked up her life and moved to Porto, Portugal, to teach English. The job required her to teach at night, which left the day free to write her novel. Perhaps some of her time in this classroom made its way into the halls of Hogwarts.
After graduating college, Brown wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a famous musician. It was this goal, in fact, that first led him to teaching. In 1991, he took up a job teaching classes at Beverly Hills Preparatory School in order to pay the bills. When the stage lights passed him by, Dan moved back to his hometown where he taught English and Spanish for 3 years. In 1996, he decided to quit teaching in order to pursue writing full-time. It paid off when his first book, Digital Fortress, was published in 1998.
Like other authors on our list, William followed in the footsteps of his father, who was a science master at Marlborough Grammar School. Unlike the previous writers, Golding continued teaching young students throughout much of his life. His first position was as a schoolmaster at Maidstone Grammar School where he taught English and music from 1938-1940. His teaching career was interrupted by the battles of WWII, during which time he served in the Royal Navy. Returning home in 1945, Golding found his long-term post at Bishop Wordsworth’s School, where he would teach English for the next 16 years. His first and most famous novel, Lord of the Flies, was published during his time at Wordsworth’s and the characters contained within are said to have been heavily influenced by Golding's many rambunctious students.
When it came time to go to college, this passion would lead him to study English at the University of Maine where he also earned his teaching certificate. Upon graduation, King had a difficult time finding a teaching position and, in a reversal from the plight of most writers, he had to sell stories in order to support himself while he looked for a job in teaching!
In 1971, one year after his college graduation, King was hired to teach at Hampden Academy, a public high school in Maine. While there, he continued to write and sell short stories and work on ideas for books. When his now-famous novel, Carrie, was published in 1973, King’s career as a horror writer was officially launched and he transitioned away from teaching to write full-time.
Filled with knowledge, theories, questions, and exploits, books can be some of our greatest teachers. Through reading, we can go anywhere and learn anything. Thank you to the teachers who first make the jumbled symbols on the page transform into adventures and place pencils in hands and teach us to build worlds of our own.
Have you heard? A. Blob is back and this time, things are about to get stickier than ever. When A. Blob boards the school bus, it seems like the children of Lincoln Elementary School will never get away from its ooey, gooey bullying behavior, but can one small voice change everything? Even A. Blob? Find out in A. Blob on a Bus, by L.A. Kefalos, the second installment of The Blob Series, coming this spring.
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.