A Tribute to That One Teacher

Last night I learned that my high school typing teacher passed away. Pat Renner taught a business class at West Potomac High School where I attended in the 90’s.

I’ve hardly thought of Mrs. Renner since I took her typing class, but not a day goes by that her class doesn’t impact my life. I type every single day. I didn’t know at 15 years old that I’d become a writer. I didn’t know that this class would serve as the foundation and the scaffolding for everything I do professionally.

There I sat, positioning my teenage fingers on the typewriter: asdfjkl; asdfjkl; asdfjkl;. Nobody talked. We just typed. I remember. I see her short blond hair and smart wardrobe. The room erupted each day with the sounds of clicking and carriage returns. The first day, I felt the keys respond to my fingers. Day after day, my fingers found the keys. Day after day, I learned and began typing so quickly I felt like a master musician playing Rachmaninoff. I remember I sat next to Casey who always typed faster than I could.

How could anyone know that Mrs. Renner’s lessons would become the foundation of that essay I typed on my first word processor for the University of Virginia–probably the first official document I ever typed? Every essay, every book, every blog–it all stemmed from that one class I never think about but use every single day of my life.

I wish I would have taken the time to reach out to her and thank her for sitting in that classroom 30 years ago and enduring the sounds of kids learning to type. I’m typing this now without looking at the keys–all because of Pat Renner. I think she’d be proud of how quickly I typed this for her.

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