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My first day of English class, sophomore year of high school, I walked into a classroom dark except for a single candle flickering on my teacher’s desk. He stayed quiet, writing, as we all filtered into the room, nervously laughing and whispering to each other. Eventually, we took his cue and began to write too. This teacher, Mr. McGraw, soon became my favorite—because he gave us the freedom to explore language and literature in the ways that most inspired and invigorated us. In his class, I labored over poems, researched the Brontë sisters, and explored symbolism in The Scarlet Letter. I am still grateful for the space he gave me to learn and write how I wanted to.

Teachers have a huge impact on our lives— hopefully in positive ways but also, frequently and unfortunately, in negative ways. Most of the stories and poems in this issue take the classroom as setting and subject, examining the ways that teachers and schools influence who we are and what we do.

I hope you take this as an opportunity to reflect on the teachers who have nurtured your passions!

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