Jane Dubrova ‘20
I haven’t yet decided what my first book is going to be about, but I do know what I will write on the dedication page:
To Granny, wherever you are
Thanks for locking me in the bathroom with The Little Prince and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It was scary for a little while, but then I started reading and didn’t even hear grandpa screaming that he had to pee.
Sorry. I didn’t know I could unlock it from the inside.
I wasn’t raised in a sadistic family. It’s just that women tend to be a little impulsive when others don’t share their passions. My grandma loved books. I loved toy cars. The two didn’t go well together, and when she discovered that I’ve made a garage for my trucks out of Jules Verne novels, she locked me in the bathroom. Half an hour later, I became too bored of flushing self-made toilet paper fishes and had no choice but to start reading. I couldn’t stop ever since. For this, and for many other lessons that I would not be able to fit in a thousand dedication pages, I am forever grateful. One day, I’ll lock my grandchildren with some good books too. They may even fall in love with the words as I did.
I often recall this story, walking down St. Mark’s hallways, wondering if these remarkably passionate students and faculty members would still have been as remarkably passionate if it wasn’t for other people who, at some point of their lives, locked them in a cramped room with Shakespeare sonnets, oil paint, Mendeleev’s periodic table, Greek alphabet, or whatever it is they now can’t live without. As Thanksgiving approaches, and the feeling of gratitude fills the air, I am interviewing St. Mark’s faculty to find out who has inspired their lifelong interests and secured a place on the dedication page of their first book.
Ms. Donovan– Assistant Librarian; History Teacher:
To Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Whose excellent usage of imagery allowed the reader to fully engage with the situation and characters
Besides the world-renowned American fiction writer, who has influenced Ms. Donovan’s interest in literature, she is grateful to her wonderful middle school history teachers, who have supported all the students in the class and helped them connect with each other.
Ms. LaFreniere– Assistant to Dean of Students:
To my daughter,
Whose self-devotion to the autistic children she works with inspires me every day
And to my wonderful son,
Who is not any less wonderful
Who knows, maybe if it wasn’t for people who have influenced Ms. LaFreniere along the way, today she would have been riding some fine Arabian horse on her farm, instead of working at St. Mark’s.
“Oh goodness, who is my role model? Today, I want to be Ms. Matthews,” Ms. LaFreniere smiles as Ms. Matthews walks into her office bursting into laughter.
“It’s not that bad. I wanted to own a horse farm when I was in the kindergarten,” I start recalling my crazy dreams before the bathroom incident.
“Horse farm! Definitely! I had a group of 4-5 friends, and we’ve volunteered on a horse farm every single day for two whole summers. It was great. But then I also wanted to work with children. I thought about becoming a child psychologist, but now I’m glad I haven’t. I take things too personally.”
We are all glad.
Ms. Millet– History and Social Sciences Department Chair:
To my parents
For giving me opportunities that I’ve had to learn and explore who I wanted to be.
And to all the institutions
That have challenged me throughout the years to be better at the work I do
Ms. Millet also talked about her high school and college history teachers, who have influenced her interest in social justice. As a photographer, she was particularly inspired by the works of Edward Weston.
Dr. Appell-Warren- Director of Global Citizenship; History & Social Sciences Department Faculty:
George N. and Laura W.R. Appell
to all those who tenaciously seek clarity
This is a real dedication page from Dr. Warren’s first published book. Turned out, some people go beyond thinking about the acknowledgments and actually write something.
“I always loved psychology and anthropology. There was an amazing child psychology teacher in my high school, which wasn’t something every school had. Another teacher who made me committed to understanding psychology was also my dorm mother, so we were very close. I thought I would be a child psychologist, but I didn’t want to be one of those parents who overanalyze their children behavior, and I also knew that working with sad kids would be hard for me. So I decided to study anthropology, but then I met my husband,” we all know how that story goes, “and it changed everything. Anyway, I love working with children of this age even more.”
“If I publish another book, I would dedicate it to my husband and my children. Grandchildren maybe,” she adds smiling.
Ms. Adams– Director of Community & Equity Affairs, Religion Department Faculty:
For my mother, Loretta Adams Hodge, who thought she was too dark for love. She was just too much like right. I miss you Mama.
To my little sisters Danni, Shima and Aja for being in my heart on the worst days. You got the next.
For the faculty and students of #SDLC2015 where woke was (re)defined for me.
But most of all to my son, Asa, who forced me to follow my dreams by following his. I love you to life.
I’m getting my free for me and for us.
“We gon be a’ight!”
This is another real dedication from Ms. Adam’s poetry collection Black Mama Blues: Becomings. In the interview, she commented on her life journey and transformation of her passions.
“As a kid, I wanted to be a fashion designer AND a child psychologist. The first and the most renowned fashion psychologist. I didn’t want any other child in the world to go through the hardships that I was going through. I wanted to help them, and I wanted to be fashionable while doing it,” Ms. Adams recalls her first serious career decision. “Then, in the high school, I’ve developed in my writing and decided to become a best-selling author, but I was pushed towards science and engineering by my AP Chemistry and AP Calculus teachers. When I was already accepted to the school for chemical engineering, I met an amazing advanced literature teacher. She challenged me in many unexpected ways. I could manipulate my previous teachers, write for my audience, so I’ve always got straight A’s. For my first assignment with the new teacher, I got a C, and the girl next to me, who I knew was a worse writer, got an A. You know what the woman said to me? ‘What you wrote, was a C for you, and what she wrote, was an A for her.’ She taught me to compete against myself, not others. And my family was very influential, of course. My grandmother and mother did a lot for the community. I watched them teaching adults to read or gain other skills. Helping others and expressing your gratitude was everything.”
Dr. Harwood– Classics Department Faculty:
Om Tat Sat
No, it’s not Greek. Om Tat Sat in Sanskrit literally means “All that is the Truth”.
“I translate it as ‘this is it’. This is all we’ve got, this is the world and this is it!” I listen carefully, wondering whether Dr. Harwood would notice if I plagiarize this phrase for the epigraph to my future second book.
“Speaking about someone who inspired me,” she continues, “I would say Pippi Longstocking. My father read this book to me every night, and this girl was my role model. Pippi is her own person. She is very independent, has a big heart, and stands up for what is right. I am an independent person too. I am a feminist. I believe that women can do extraordinary things. My mother went back to college and got her bachelors and masters degrees in education after giving birth to three daughters. Watching her do that was inspiring. I was also fortunate to work in schools with wonderful colleagues who have always supported me in my sometimes non-traditional teaching methods. But a person who has influenced me the most in terms of my character is my son. He always reminds me to see the beauty and humor in things.”
I cannot stop smiling while listening to these stories. I could have published the whole collection of St. Mark’s faculty dedication pages, but I wonder if it really matters. Maybe we don’t necessarily have to dedicate a book or name a star after our loved ones. Maybe it’s good enough to remember.