My best friend Lisa and I carefully wrote our words with a No. 2 pencil. We took turns writing down the sentences. "Dear Miss Hanley," we wrote, "you like Kathleen better than you like us. That isn't fair." Miss Hanley was our fourth-grade teacher. She was in her 20s, with short, dark, curly hair and lively grey eyes. It was her first-year teaching in our public school in the northeast Bronx.
"You're a very talented writer," Miss Hanley often told me. This excited me. A few weeks into this school year, Lisa and I had co-authored a play based on our favorite novel, Little Women. And we performed the play in front of the class. When the curtain came down, the applause from the students was light. But Miss Hanley clapped strongly, saying, "Great!