NewsPositively Central Texas


Author reunites with inspirational 8th-grade teacher 20 years later

Posted at 10:35 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 23:37:54-04

Most teachers will never know the impact they've had on a former student, but for one Central Texas professor, fate circled back around and brought her back to the teacher that changed her life.

Many of us can remember our time in middle school, while others prefer to forget. For Dr. Stephanie Peebles Tavera a professor of English at Texas A&M Central Texas, it was the time to figure out who she was going to be for the rest of her life.

"I have two pandemic babies my book and my child," said Tavera.

Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Tavera has been a true nurturer. Raising her two boys with her husband, and writing her novel. It's a medical fiction book rooted in research and real-life events called "(P)rescription Narratives: Feminist Medical Fiction and the Failure of American Censorship". As she finished the final page, it was time she write the acknowledgments. Dr. Tavera said she had to include her 8th-grade teacher who she knew then as Mrs. Julie Martin, now Dr. Julie Leslie.

Tavera siad, "Anytime I’m feeling really poorly and forget why I decided to do this I go back and I look at my thank you notes and the same thing is true about my old papers."

Little notes of motivation written in the margins of Dr. Tavera's 8th-grade English papers have proven to be the pick-me-up she has always needed. The encouragements from her 8th-grade teacher, serve as a reminder of the woman, who saw her writer's spirit so early on.

Dr. Leslie said, "It’s been about 20 years ago since we’ve last seen each other!"

"I remember you signed my yearbook and I have that still," said Tavera.

Without even knowing, both women have been keeping each other close after all these years.

When Tavera's book hits shelves next year, there will be an acknowledgment to the teacher who took the time to see her potential.

"This whole situation has brought tears to my eyes incredibly touched to know that I made a positive difference in a young woman’s life," Leslie said.

"You know as a student a teacher can sour a subject for you for the rest of your life. So, holding on to the ones that don't that changes things," Tavera said. "She was inspirational to my wanting to write and to become a professional writer and eventually to me wanting to become a teacher. She just has a certain light about her."