Mari-Linn, the school I attended in my elementary years, was also the school I attended as a middle schooler. It is located in Lyons, Oregon, which in my childhood was a rural logging community of around 700 people. The school pulled from the surrounding areas far outside the town limits which was where my family lived. Even with doing so and even though the school held grades kindergarten through 8th, only one small school was necessary for such a town. As far as I know it is still the only school needed for the population of the town, although a Google search does reveal Lyons has grown a fair bit since my childhood.
I do not recall the exact grade I was in when I was first tested for TAG (talented and gifted), but I know that I was of elementary age. The teacher who led the TAG program at Mari-Linn, was Ms. Degner. I would have her later as a homeroom teacher in 7th grade and if I remember right as a science and art teacher in 8th grade.
Early on, during my time in TAG, Ms. Degner nurtured my giftings encouraging me to write, create books and try different forms of poetry. I remember her as a smiling, supportive sort, although sometimes with a serious contemplative look. We students often harassed her about being absent minded (largely behind her back) and having a cluttered desk. But to me she was one of the first adult artists I knew and I looked up to her for her creative abilities. It was Ms. Degner who profoundly influenced my desire to be an author.
She, more than once, invited me to the annual Oregon Writing Festival. Each year, for a number of years, she would take a group of students from Mari-Linn to the festival in downtown Portland, on the campus of Portland State University. Students got to meet and hear from published authors but also got a chance to present themselves as an author to a group of their peers. It was an incredible experience for a budding writer and helped me at a young age to think of myself as an author. It also later influence my decision to go to Portland State when I return to college at thirty-one. The grand brick buildings and wide green parks in the middle of the city left a lasting impression on my child mind; this was where writers belonged.
Any one who writes is a writer (of course) and sooner or later if that writer keeps at it, they will find themselves an author. This has been the case for me although the path to authorship has, as of yet, been barely tread by my feet. I owe a lot of credit to Ms. Degner for the little I have yet achieved and for any future success I will hopefully one day have.