WC’s Mentors: Eve Kozloski

WC’s AP English teacher at Lathrop High School was Eve Kozloski.

Eve Kozloski, 1967

Eve Kozloski, 1967

Ms. Kozloski was a gifted, patient English and writing instructor. WC knows from his own feeble attempts that teaching anyone to write. let alone to write well, requires detailed, careful feedback from the teacher. It’s very easy to pop whatever small bubble of enthusiasm you as a teacher might be able to create in a student. Most initial efforts by beginning students are truly awful. Getting the student to improve that first effort without completely deflating them is a high art.

Eve Kozloski was a master at that high art. She helped WC through the mysteries of composition, not just of the essay form – and a blog post is the bastard child of an essay – but also criticism, exposition, analysis and structure. A large measure of whatever quality may be in WC’s blog posts owes its roots to Eve Kozloski. Any faults are the failures of WC, not her instruction. Ms. Kozloski encouraged her students to read widely, whether comic books, romance novels or the classics. But she’d make you write an essay analyzing and critiquing whatever you read. By the time she’d sent you through two or three drafts of a review of an ACE science fiction double novel, you’d understand just how crappy the ACE authors’ writing was.

WC didn’t appreciate it at the time. It seemed nitpicky and demanding. Seemingly pointless. But the approaches and skills she taught WC have been invaluable in WC’s careers and countless avocations, including this one.

She died in the late 1970s. WC was one of a handful of students to attend her funeral. WC never had a chance to thank her while she was still alive; he can only do so now: Thank you, Ms. Kozloski, for your patience and skill in teaching an unbelievably smart-aleck kid to very nearly be able to write. WC will pass along a compliment from a college professor, Marliss Strange, reacting to the challenges of teaching WC anything: “Your high school English teacher wasn’t paid enough.”

It’s true. Nor was she praised enough. WC thanks her again.