By Aimee Bingham Osinski firstname.lastname@example.org
“The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you onto the next plateau, sometimes with a sharp stick called truth.” Dan Rather
As I visited the Dexter District Library exhibit on women earning the right to vote, I saw a familiar face on the speaker lineup. Susan Nenadic, was giving a talk on the suffrage movement. Memories came flooding back. Red pen marks and my grumbling as a teenager. My habit of writing down quotes I liked from reading, started in her class, as a year long assignment. With her promise the quotes would be useful in our college writing courses. She was right. Prior to the days of a simple Google search for quotes about… a quote book from our extensive reading list was an incredibly handy way to impress a professor.
About 25-30 gathered before the talk started. I saw my former Expository writing teacher chatting in a chair next to a friend who had joined her. She looked nearly the same as she did back in the 1990s. I pulled out a notebook and began taking furious notes as she spoke, as if I’d be quizzed at the end of the lecture. Old habits die hard. I was not the most attentive student, but as she spoke, I realized how lucky I’d been to have her as a teacher. The discussion revolved around obstacles to the suffrage movement and was well researched and explained. As I learned things, of which I never knew, even after taking college level courses, I was marvelling at the wonderful assets and resources of a library. I was able to attend and learn for free. I mentally promised myself to attend more talks and lectures given by the local libraries. As a person who enjoys learning and would be a professional college student if it weren’t so costly, free lectures and opportunities to learn are a treat. Susan is a natural or a pro, from her many years as a highschool teacher. I actually smiled during the Q and A portion, when women, unaccustomed to raising their hands, started to speak out of turn. “Excuse me, just a moment, her hand was up.” Ah yes, the consummate high school teacher can handle any room and quickly achieve order, so nobody has to talk over anyone.
I smiled again when she mentioned the name of her book on the subject A Purse of Her Own: Occupations Of Nineteenth Century Women and Legendary Locals of Ann Arbor. “A Purse of her own, You know, the Susan B Anthony quote?” Old habits do die hard. She’s still using famous quotes to make a point and supplement a subject matter. Some readers may recall, I’ve opened several stories here with a famous quote, a little homage to my former English teacher.
As the event wrapped and everyone began to leave, I ran up to introduce myself, in probably what must have felt like a fangirl sort of way. It’s true, had it not been for Mrs. Nenadic, helping to select me for the new honors writing program in Saline, I might not be a reporter today. She is a grammar technician and will probably not enjoy my style here, which does not adhere to the technical rules of writing. My editor gives me the freedom to write in my own voice without strict adherence to the rules. The rules have never been my wheelhouse. However, I’m grateful for the wonderful education and reinforcing the idea on a willful, obstinate 15 year-old, that I could write and write well if I put some effort into it.
In closing, I encourage you to look into the wonderful asset that is your local library and take advantage of the incredible learning experiences offered at www.dexter.lib.mi.us/events/. I’m certainly glad I did and plan on doing it again and often. If you’re looking for a public speaker on a wide range of topics from 19th/20th Century Women’s History, Shakespeare, General Interest, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Washtenaw County, do contact Susan Nenadic at Slnenadic@gmail.com. If you’re interested in the local history and the suffrage movement, order her book. I have no doubt from the talk, it’s well researched and no stone was left unturned.
The photos of Susan and myself are her and me with her book and our expressions after I told her that I will direct readers to voice complaints about my writing to her. Do not. I'm much older but equally as willful. She did her best with me!