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Excerpted from the book Beginner's Mind

Salem College Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award

This is the work of an original, smart, and talented writer. She has a great storehouse of knowledge and a penetrating understanding of many subjects, including human beings. It is wonderful to read someone who knows a capella, Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, as well as Carol Channing and Hepburn (and knows the difference). When has a school room been given such vivid enunciation -- the dioramas, shoe boxes, sticker-stars, and clay figures, the comfort of “half-truths” for other children, but not for Miss D’s. With a “sideways glance,” they took it all in, and were forgiving, like Miss D (whose door says welcome, an endless acquittal). It is difficult to see any of us “condemned,” and yet, there are standards. Standards! I can’t go on admiring line after line, when I am only on the first two pages in my commentary (and my language is so stupid and pale in comparison), but that’s what this essay does to me; it says look, see, remember. Word for word, sentence by sentence, I am enthralled. Thank God for Miss D, and for being reminded that at least one or two of my own teachers were, if not her equals, close sisters. While the writer appears like a new comet on my horizon, I am wild to know what this writer will do next. Meanwhile, she will be “graded,” though A+ hardly describes my

-- Emily Herring Wilson, Judge                            
   2007 Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award

Salem College Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction Award

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