A young man stood in the doorway, his curly head cocked at a rakish angle, a big grin on his face. “I’m going to grad school so that one day I can have your job,” he announced.
This moment from my own life helps me understand why Dale Salwak chose to write a teaching memoir addressed to a former student. A tragedy prompted the idea. A professor of English at Citrus College, Salwak was expecting a visit in his office from a 20-year-old student, whom he calls Kelly in the book. She failed to show up, and he soon learned that a van had smashed into her Volkswagen, killing her instantly. As Salwak thought about how he would have continued in the role of mentor if Kelly had lived, he composed the series of midlife reflections that became Teaching Life.