The summer before middle school was difficult. My beloved grandmother passed away after a tumultuous battle with cancer. I was nervous about the work and stress I expected would come with starting middle school. Combined with the pain left by my grandma’s death, the thought of starting sixth grade seemed unbearable. I figured I would be lost at sea, just about ready to drown in the wallows of nerves.
Fortunately, I had teachers who helped me adjust. My English teacher seemed to understand what I was going through. While she introduced herself to the class, Ms. Bolinski showed us pictures of her own grandmother. She explained how close they were, and I could tell by her wistful expression that we shared similar bonds with our grandmothers. Ms. Bolinski confided in the class that her grandma recently passed away. I was so surprised to see my teacher and I had something like that in common. It was comforting to see that an adult, and my teacher, dealt with the same emotions I was just learning to process. Without knowing it, Ms. Bo helped me feel a little less alone.
Ms. Bolinski was the advisor for the middle school’s literary magazine, The Scribbler. Once a week, a small group met in her classroom to work on anything creative. Ms. Bo gave us the freedom to create what we wanted. She was there to supervise and give advice on any projects, but she was mainly there to foster an environment of inspiration. I made lasting memories giggling with my friends while tweaking details of my submissions. I have always loved writing, and the literary magazine gave me an outlet.
Eventually, I started to see writing allowed me to express the emotions I tried so hard to push down. I was encouraged by Ms. Bolinski’s enthusiasm for poetry and her candor about her own grandmother’s death. I began writing a poem about my grandma. To this day, that poem is one of my favorite things I have ever written, because I allowed myself to be honest about a difficult experience. Ms. Bo gave me the courage and confidence to grow as a writer and an individual, and for that I cannot be more grateful.
Ms. Bolinski no longer teaches at my former middle school, but I know that she is still empowering and uplifting others. Her new pupils, including the students in her yoga class, are lucky to know such a talented and thoughtful teacher.
I have run into Ms. Bo a few times over the years. Each time we reconnect is a welcome surprise and a reminder of the impacts she has made on my life. I am so thankful that Ms. Bolinski gave me support when I needed it the most.
It was my first day of middle school at Stone Bank school. My summer had been tough while my mom had been diagnosed with cancer. I was worried and stressed and my school stuff was a mess my first day. I will never forget when I met Ms. Bolinski though. She helped me get everything organized and label folders for all of my classes. She was patient and compassionate.
Everyone struggles with middle school, but I knew Ms. Bolinski could make middle school easier. It was easy to tell she had a passion for English and took all the time and effort she could to make it fun and interesting. Ms. Bolinski was a common favorite teacher because of the energy and love she had for all of her students.
I never had a hard time with school like I did in middle school. I was struggling to listen and to care. I know many teachers didn’t like me because I would cause distractions and give little to no effort. I failed many classes and was put into a special program my freshman year of high school. But English was different. I still didn’t love fixing grammar and writing but I did learn to appreciate it. I Enjoyed our weekly spelling tests, I remember getting decent grades on those. I even ended up doing so well with spelling I made it into the school spelling bee and I didn’t do too bad. Without Ms. Bolinski’s energy for English I don’t think I would have gotten into that spelling bee.
Ms. Bolinski also always had an appreciation for art, I'll never forget the blue and purple painted hands around the room. I remember going to her class after school and talking to her. She also held a scribbler club afterschool for all the kids that wanted to either draw or write after school. She would then have a book at the end of the year that would hold all the drawings and writing pieces that students would create and wanted to put in the book.
I also remember painting a portrait for her classroom at the end of eight grade. Today I follow her instagram account and although I don’t keep a ton of contact anymore I heard she was moving on from stone bank to a different school. I decided to message her and we talked a bit. She later messaged me to tell me she was going to hang my painting in her new classroom, and I felt touched by the fact that it meant enough to her that she wanted to hang it in the new place she was going to teach.