Feeling the Love!

Dear Writers,

I just had one of those moments where your adult child calls you up to say thanks for being such a great mom, only the adult child is a past writing student of mine who “grew up” and wrote an awesome book. Selah J Tay-Song, author of the Dreams of QaiMaj series, wrote about my teaching in her blog series, 101 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Wrote My First Book

It’s a great feeling to know a student found a particular lesson useful—thanks, Selah, for totally making my day! It’s also wonderful how we have generations of teaching memories. Each time a wonderful student of mine comes back to say thank you, I not only feel appreciated but also get the satisfaction of knowing that at least on that day or in that class I did my job well.

Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern was recently re-released with a newly designed cover.

Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern was recently re-released with a newly designed cover.

I’m also reminded of my wonderful mentors and teachers, one in particular. My high school English teacher, Dr. Thomas Mooney, recognized my interest in literature and gave me a lot of mentoring and encouragement. He also got me a generous scholarship that made it possible for me to go to college. The summer before I left for school, he took me out to breakfast and talked to me about college and my future. My father had just passed away, and my kind teacher did more for my emotional state with that gesture than he can fully know.

I stay in touch with him to this day and send him some of the stories I write, which we laughingly call my “homework.” Each time one of my students tells me thank you, I feel that I’ve in part earned some of the faith Dr. Mooney, my “Forever Teacher,” had in me.

Now my student, friend, and colleague Selah is out doing wonderful work and sharing her skills with other writers, and we keep passing the writing torch on. Isn’t life pretty wonderful?

By the way, Book 2 in Selah’s QaiMaj series is well in the works, so if like me you are dying to know what happens to Stasia and company next, we shouldn’t have to wait too much longer!

For those of you in Whatcom County, I’ll see you tonight at Open Mic at Village Books!

XO Laurel Leigh




14 thoughts on “Feeling the Love!

  1. Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for your wonderful note! Yep, “seen and valued” is such an apt way to describe the way he managed to treat so many of us over the years. It is truly amazing how many lives one teacher affected positively. Thanks so much for writing. Hearing from another student of his makes my day. XO

  2. Hi Laurel, I’m so glad to hear you’re still in touch with Dr. Mooney. I know I’m but one of many, many, many students whose lives he touched, changed. I struggled a lot in that class, but in such a good way, making me thoughtful and strong. As a quiet and frustrated teen, I felt seen and valued. I still carry his words and memories from his class with me to this day. He is/was a teacher in the deepest sense of the term, shaping us into good human beings. My message is probably no different than anyone else, but I’d be happy adding my sentiments to the stack. Thank you, Laurel, for sharing your stories and also providing a place for us Mooney-ites to gather and share ours too. What fond memories. Take care!

  3. Laurel,

    Thank you for writing this post. I felt so fortunate to have made it into Dr. Mooney’s class back in 1998-99. He was a legend, and I pulled some strings to make it happen. Ultimately he changed my life, not just by imparting life-changing wisdom upon me but also by pushing me and grading me based on my potential. I think I failed to get an “A” because he was strict and realistic about grading students relative to their potential. I recently published a short piece based on a life-changing basic philosophy he drilled into his students: https://marshallstokes.com/everything-is-amazing/.

    I hope you enjoy it, and I sincerely hope to correspond with Dr. Mooney again some day!

    Marshall Stokes

    • Hi Marshall,

      Thanks for writing! Your post is great, and I think there’s a cadre of Dr. Mooney’s students who have carried bits of his wisdom into later life. It is heartwarming and not the least bit surprising that people are still posting messages about him on the Boise High bulletin board.

      I’m also curious about something. He had a gag going for years at Bishop Kelly, where he’d get the valedictorians to work the word “feckless” into their graduation speeches. It would be hilarious, and we students would all be snickering and very few of the grown-ups knew what the joke was. I’m just wondering if he continued that at Boise High. I’ve been waiting for years to find the right way to work the word into a story, and I think I have it, so hopefully later this year it will get published.

      I will forward your post along to him. I’m guessing it will make his day.

      All the best to you, and please keep in touch!

  4. Hello Laurel Leigh,
    I’m a student of Mr. Tyler Bevis, a former student of Dr. Tom Mooneys’ at Boise High. I just saw your comment, on Dr. Mooney, and wanted to know if in any way you could let Mr. Mooney know that Tyler is looking for him, to go grab a coffee or something with him. You see, the reason we’ve been searching for him is because, as you, and everyone I come across who knew the man, believes him to be the Greatest English teacher there is. And I know Bevis has told me and a few of his classes a story I won’t forget anytime soon… It was about how a man taught Mooney, I believe, French… With The Little Prince. I asked Bevis if I could get the story again, to write it down so I’d remember it, and that inspired him to met up with Mooney again. That’s why we’re looking for him, so he can see a long lost friend, and get caught up on years gone by…

    If you can, please pass on the message.
    Thank You.


    Tyler A. Bevis
    South Junior High School
    Boise, Idaho

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Your message makes me smile. The legend of Dr. Mooney lives on indeed! He is a pretty amazing mortal. I will be happy to pass along a message to him. If you go to my Contact page, you can e-mail Tyler’s contact info to me and I’ll let the great man know that he is being sought.

  5. Laurel, I often think of how lucky for me it was that you found your way to Bellingham and started teaching at Whatcom. Another of my favorite memories is when you met me for coffee at Western and listened to me tell you the entire plot of what would become the Dreams of QaiMaj series. I think it took about two hours. Just having someone patiently listen to all that was a remarkable boost to my confidence, let alone the value in talking out the plot with someone of your expertise. Susan, thanks for the kind words! We’re lucky to have not only great teachers but such a great community of writers in this area!

    • Thanks for the good words, Selah. That day at Western listening to your story was super fun, even more so now that the story you told me has become a great book. It’s interesting to think back on how much of the plot you told me that I recognized while reading, although you built a lot more into the book by the time it was finished. I agree; we have such a great writing community out here, and I’m glad I landed in Bellingham as well.

  6. Hi Susan! I know you are enjoying Alaska, but we missed you at Open Mic. Thankfully, we have your posts to entertain us while you are sending them from afar. Thanks for the wonderful words; Selah is making quite the name for herself, as are you. It’s been delightful for me to watch it happen. XO

  7. Oh, Laurel, it was such a pleasure reading Selah’s post, not only because she is changed because of your insightful instruction, as I have been, but because I learned from her what she learned from you. You’ve fostered both a brilliant writer and another teacher of the art. Thank you.

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