Recently I wrote that 450 seventh graders at Elizabeth B. Davis Middle School in Chester, Virginia, had studied “Izzy’s Fire” during the final months of the 2010 school year. I have heard from many of them and some have posted comments on this blog, offering their opinions and saying encouraging things that I’m very grateful for. An incident that happened during the last weeks of school, though, was a defining moment for me. Rebecca Quesenberry, who retired after 42 years of teaching, the last one at Davis where she coordinated 20 teachers and the “Izzy” classroom project, told me something I will always treasure. Becky said that word had reached her about how two young male students had come to the defense of one of the school’s students. It seems a cheerleader was bullying another girl, a very shy one. The young men intervened and explained that bullying should not be happening and they expected it to stop, which it did. When Becky asked them why they decided to take a stand in this particular incident, they told her that it was the result of having studied “Izzy’s Fire.”

When Becky shared that story with me, she was immensely proud and we were both deeply touched. It underscored the hard work I had put into writing the book and Becky had put into teaching it, making it all worthwhile. It also proved something I learned as a child. My parents always taught me that you plant a garden and hope for rain and good weather so it will grow. The same can be said of writing a book. An author doesn’t always know what happens after the seeds are planted. I consider myself blessed to have dedicated teachers like Becky who water and nourish the plants to maturity.