To Michael

Here is Michael with my daughter Rachael at their graduation from Beverly Hills High School.

My beloved student Michael Bina is graduating from NYU right now and I want to just say congratulations to a boy who has made me proud as his writing teacher.

Michael came to me as a 7th grader. In our first session, it was clear that he was a good kid, but just not too excited about school at that moment. It was also obvious that he was not happy that his mother had decided to bring him to see me. At the end of the hour, I told him, “I only work with students who want to work with me. You go home and make a decision whether or not you’re one of those kids. If not, no problem. Just tell your Mom that this wasn’t for you and there will be no hard feelings between us.” I concluded our conversation by saying, “If you do decide to come back, then I expect you to be ready to work. I am not here to discipline my students. This is writing enrichment, after all.”

Alas, Michael returned the next week a changed boy. He walked in ready to focus and be open to my instruction. He was my student for the next five years.

Fast forward to three years back when he was accepted to the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. We were beside ourselves with happiness. What an honor! What a wonderful school! What an opportunity! All born from Michael’s hard work as a writer, which had won him that spot at Tisch.

I have seen Michael on many of his trips back home over these past 3 years. He comes over and we sit and talk about our writing projects. We are fellow writers at this point, no longer teacher and student. He told me that he was going to push hard and graduate in 3 years. I was impressed, but not surprised. Michael has that sort of drive.

A few hours ago, I received a text from him. It read, “We are at my graduation and I wanted to thank you for everything.”

Of course, I couldn’t even read those words without tears welling up in my eyes. This is what every teacher hopes to hear during their time working with students.

I wrote back. “Oh, honey, I am so proud of you! Thank you for thanking me.”

So, now sweet Michael will return to LA and start looking for ways to ply his trade in the television or film industry. I am not worried. He is one of the most enterprising people I know.

I’m just glad that he decided to come back and get focused way back in 7th grade.

I made a friend that day. One I will hold in my heart forever.

Congratulations, Michael!

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