Friday was our trip to Monroeville, Alabama. We drove an hour and a half in in a very scrunched-three to a seat, bus to visit the birthplace of Harper Lee. We also visited the old Monroeville Courthouse, which was the setting of the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird. All total, we visited eight exhibits at the courthouse. I haven't had a chance to ask you your favorites yet, but I am anxious to hear.
I really liked the Harper Lee room and the archives. I wanted more time to spend in each room, but I am a nerd in that regard, I suppose. I also regret we did not get to see the play or Harper Lee's grave. Maybe you all will visit again some day soon.
Above all, I hope the trip is something you will always remember about your freshman year. I can remember every trip I ever took in high school and which teachers put in the work to take me there. I hope you all will too.
As we begin reading the novel, I am certain the setting will stick out vividly in your mind, as you have now been to the places Lee writes about in her critically acclaimed novel. It is one thing to read about a courtroom and imagine what it might look like, but it is another thing entirely to know you have stood in the same courtroom that Harper Lee did as a little girl.
When I think about her, I wonder if at 14 she knew she was going to win the Pulitzer Prize and write a novel that would shape American culture so strongly, or was she mostly worried about the grade she got on her last history test or how to fit in best with her peers? My guess is the latter. In all honesty, she was probably a lot like many of you- destined for greatness without even knowing it.
Friday you all witnessed firsthand how small Monroeville really is. It is staggering to realize something so big came out of a place so small. It reminds me so much of my own home town of Brewton, AL, a place small in every sense of the word. I say Harper Lee is my literary idol, and it is true. Yet, I think I admire her most because she reminds me (and gives me hope) that despite my humble birthplace, maybe I, too, can write a novel that can change the world. And if I can't, maybe I can at least teach someone who will.
I don't know who this person will be yet, but I feel certain he or she sits in one of my six classes this year. So whoever you are, here is my message to you. #1 Don't feel like something big cannot come out of a place so small. After all, Harper Lee has already proven to us that it is possible. #2 I am not saying you have to, but I certainly would feel honored if you could throw a small shout out my way.
"To Mrs. Bell- Thanks for the field trip."
Your Favorite Student
Sincerely Your Favorite Teacher (hopefully),