inspiring teachers

Let Us Be Brilliant

With every comma, every semicolon, every piece of punctuation I use, one teacher’s voice among many still prominently rings in my head every time I write a sentence. 

In fact, every time I submit a paper now in grad school, I still submit it as if I were submitting to her class, wondering what grade she would give me β€” still conditioned to strive for that nearly impossible but ever-so-rewardingly possible A+.

Her voice also rings when I read any piece of great literature, see any great film, or step into any great museum. Or when I write any poem, any story, any journal entry, or any blog post. Or when I think of becoming a teacher. Or a writer. Or a speaker. Or simply the most brilliant version of myself I can possibly be. 

She was tough and gentle, encouraging and wise. She was our Google before we had Google. She knew everything, and I would often leave her class wondering how in the world it was possible for one human being to know SO much! From the Baroque to the Enlightenment, from Asian art to Russian literature, from Dia de los Muertos to old spiritual hymns. If there was one person I would rally behind and go into battle for, it would be Pamela Stanescu.

She called us “great and glorious human beings” before every lecture, and β€” at least for me β€” she made me feel like I was. 

It was an honor to be her student in her 45 years of teaching. I would give anything to be at her last lecture this afternoon. Instead, I will salute her from the foothills of the Rockies, and with spirited cry, I say, “Let us all be brilliant, shall we?” Not just for an afternoon. But for our entire lives. 

Why not? She did. 

Watch her interview here.