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May I have a word or two?

Michael Alexander, NLJ Reporter

As Robert Frost wisely suggested, one should try to “unite (his) avocation with (his) vocation.” I have done my best to follow Frost’s advice. Therefore, I consider myself fortunate to be given the opportunity to place some words on the pages of the News Letter Journal.

I recently wrapped up my 13th year of teaching high school English, and the number of essays I have graded during my career runs in the thousands.

Who knows how many words I have combed through in this endeavor? Yet I have not yet met my fill. I am still a big fan of words.

This fondness for written expression goes back as far as I can remember. I can recall being frustrated as a young child over having something to say but being unable to express it clearly. This frustration led to an awareness of the promise of words.

Fluency, I realized, could only be attained through practice. So, to reach my goal of more effective communication, I devoured books. I added useful words to my repertoire as I encountered them. In fact, the spectacles I rely on to see are, in large part, a consequence of my early bookworm habits. This was a price well worth paying.

Being somewhat articulate has served me well in life. This skill has carried me from a fairly modest upbringing to a comfortable middle-class life that I get to enjoy with my wife and two daughters. I am afforded the opportunity to teach youths how to communicate more effectively with words. And I even get paid to do so!

I enjoy relaying to my students how to properly use words. I quite enjoy employing them myself. In addition to my role as an educator, I am also a published author who has enjoyed some success with his fiction writing. In one way or another, much of my life is dedicated to encouraging in others an affection, or at least a respect, for words.

Whether it is a straight news story, a feature on a local resident’s accomplishments or the column you are currently reading, I can guarantee that each and every word contained within was carefully considered so that clear and accurate communication could be had. Besides, I would die of shame if a teaching colleague or former student spotted a misused or misplaced word in one of my pieces.

I look forward to spinning together more words to help keep readers better informed. I should not run out any time soon.


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