1. She was my fourth grade teacher at Sunset Elementary School in Coral Gables, Florida.
2. I knew her only as Mrs. Ormsby, a favorite teacher, but in my recent research I've found that her full name was Virginia H. Ormsby.
3. Virginia Ormsby wrote (and illustrated most of) at least a dozen books for children throughout the 1950s, 60s, and into the 70s.
4. Some of her titles are: The Little Country Schoolhouse, Long Lonesome Train Whistle, Cunning Is Better Than Strong, Twenty-One Children Plus Ten, The Big Banyan Tree, and Mountain Magic for Rosy.
5. After lunch each day, she set aside quiet writing time for her students.
6. Mrs. Ormsby must have sensed a spark of writing talent in me because whenever I finished an assignment early, she sent me to different corners of the school for extra time to write about everything I observed.
7. She sponsored a writing contest, which I won!
8. My prize was a handmade book written and illustrated by her teenage son, Alan Ormsby, titled Edith Morris Meets Charlie the Mouse. I was one of the main characters. The book is tattered and fragile now, but I take it with me on all my school visits to show the students what made me decide to become an author.
9. Mrs. Ormsby must have inspired creative talent in her son, too, because Alan Ormsby went on to be a successful director, screenwriter, make-up artist, actor, and author.
10. Mrs. Ormsby proved to me that people can write while doing many other important jobs, such as teaching. She instilled in me a love of writing, the discipline to write on a regular basis, and the will to persevere.
Thank you, Mrs. Ormsby!