#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Remembering Ms. Tina Lane

I guess this is the way I grieve. In a way, it makes sense. I am a writer, after all.

And I am a writer because of a woman named Tina Lane, who passed away on Monday...way too soon. So all I can do to honor and remember Ms. Lane is sit here this morning at my computer... and write.

I was telling an old friend this morning that I believe, 100 percent, that I could've worked my way through the ranks of my profession to my current position as a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine without a day of college. That's no knock on the UNC School of Journalism, which was fine, but more a knock on myself for being a slacker in college.

But it's also a credit to Ms. Lane, who taught journalism in High School.

I cannot name a single college professor who influenced my life. And, though it's 27 years since I graduated from West Essex High School, I can still recite Ms. Lane's aphorisms rapid-fire.

"Show don't tell."

"Maximize content, minimize words."

"If that's all you've got..."

"You've done the reporting. Now do some more."

And, I'm guessing, an expression that was probably more Jeff Bradley-specific.

"You want to put your name on that?"

Let it be known, that I was no prized pupil in Ms. Lane's journalism and creative writing classes. I was way more into playing baseball and soccer (which is funny, considering what a sub-mediocre player I was) than writing, but I was always captivated by Ms. Lane's teaching style.

OK, I confess, I was also captivated by Ms. Lane. She looked like a movie star and carried herself with more pure confidence than any teacher I'd ever laid my eyes on. I know I wasn't alone, having a little boy crush on Ms. Lane. Guys may not talk a lot about these things. But they talk.

It helped that Ms. Lane, back in the early 80s, was dating the coolest (and best) male teacher at West Essex, Mr. Montgomery, who taught history and political science. He was the male equivalent to Ms. Lane. Way cool, full of swagger, not afraid to tell you when you weren't getting the job done. Most of us figured T-Lane and Monty (nicknames you could call them to their faces) would get married some day. They did not.

Ms. Lane had a way of pushing me. At times, she used guilt to motivate me. "Look this over again, please, Jeffrey." Other times, she'd praise me, probably too much. "You have a gift, Jeffrey."

As my senior year was coming to an end, and we put the finishing touches on our final "Wessex Wire" -- I think it was some corny, Salute to Seniors thing that we passed out with everyone's yearbook -- I had the last of many heart-to-heart conversations I'd had with Ms. Lane in three long years at ol' W.E. "Not many people can make a living as a writer," I remember telling her. "Those who do, they're the gifted ones...not me."

While I can't remember exactly what Ms. Lane told me, I do recall she went back to the guilt theme. She said something like, "How dare you not believe me? I'm telling you, Jeffrey, you have the talent..."

To this day, I don't really think the word "talent" applies to me.

But how wonderful to know someone thought of me that way.

16 comments:

Carolyn said...

Thank you for sharing. I have very fond memories of Tina as well and will miss her.

Carolyn Messina
West Essex Class of 1989

Jeff Bradley said...

Thank you for reading, Carolyn. I am so sad, I had just gotten re-acquainted with Tina after 27 years and was looking forward to many years of friendship.

pk said...

Sorry to hear of your loss Jeff. We all have had special people in our early days who gave us some sort of direction.

pk

silliano said...

Jeff, Thanks for such a wonderful tribute. Tina is a dear friend of mine. She often spoke very highly of you. She very much enjoyed your publishings about 9/11/01, and recently told me how overwhelmed and flattered she was of your kind words about her at the WE Hall of Distinction banquet. Without question there was a soft spot in her heart for both you and your brother as well.

Scott Illiano
Special Education Teacher
Head Baseball Coach- WE High School

Ross Winokur said...

Tina served as an advisor and mentor to me while I wrote and edited for the Wessex Wire between 1997 and 2000. She not only helped me grow as a student, but also as a person. I would not be anywhere close to the writer I am today without her teaching and guidance. Even though at this time I am not pursuing a career in writing, despite graduating from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Journalism, I consider writing to be my strongest strength and look forward to utilizing that talent during law school and when I become an attorney. As I am writing this I realize that it is impossible for me to express in words just how much she influenced me in all areas of my life at the time and ever since. She was a tremendously wonderful person who will be missed and never be forgotten. She left us all way too soon.

Jennifer Keenan said...

Hi Jeff,

Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Ms. Lane. Similar to what you shared, Ms. Lane had a profound impact on my life. I am who I am today because of her. She pushed me to be the best I could be, and gave me confidence that I never knew existed. I was extremely saddened to hear of her passing.

Jennifer Keenan
Class of 1997
Former Editor-in-Chief, Wessex Wire

Elise said...

Hi, Jeff.
My name is Elise and I write for Fair Lawn High School's newspaper. Ms. Tina Lane was our vice principle and we are writting an appreciation story on her. We would love for you to share some stories or thoughts through an interview on the phone. If you would like to do the interview you may email me at elisexoalex@gmail.com for further information. Thank you for your time.

Jacob Krueger said...

Hey Jeff,

Ms. Lane was such a special lady, and such a special teacher. Thank you for sharing your story.

Jacob Krueger
West Essex HS '04

Bede the Youthful said...

Thanks for posting this.

I want to add mine to the chorus of voices speaking in praise of this remarkable teacher and person.

There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be who I am today--teaching literature at Boston University--without Ms. Lane. She was just so so special; what kind of teacher stays at school until 2 a.m. helping students put a school newspaper to bed? Only Ms. Lane.

Dan Salerno
Wessex Wire Entertainment Editor, 1998

Anonymous said...

Jeff:
I just heard the terrible news today. You have certainly kept your feet on the ground over the years. It is alway heart warming to see when students recognize teachers for having an impact not only on the student during their time in school, but in something they were sucessful in after school. It would be nice to chat sometime. Sorry it took this event for me to find you.
Adam Schnauffer

Anonymous said...

Tina Lane wasn't just a great teacher, she was an amazing advocate for the First Amendment and the importance of student voices. What a great loss.

Mark Goodman

TheBlueGypsy said...

I took Tina Lane's Creative Writing classes and journalism for three years. She was my favorite teacher and the best teacher I ever had. I'll never forget how every year she'd take us to Columbia University with her for a week to take writing classes. She was awesome in every way, and I feel truly blessed that I was her student.

TheBlueGypsy said...

I took Tina Lane's Creative Writing classes and journalism for three years. She was my favorite teacher and the best teacher I ever had. I'll never forget how every year she'd take us to Columbia University with her for a week to take writing classes. She was awesome in every way, and I feel truly blessed that I was her student.

Tami Morgan-Novak
Class of 1987

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff- I just came across your website via a present student of mine who knew that I knew Tina. I was a co worker of Tina's a West essex from 1999- 2002. We became friends, we became confidants, but more importantly she became a powerful mentor both professionally and personally.

I was the very lucky one who was given the gift of not only her friendship, but also the gift of teaching the class she wrote and created, "Write to Speak." Because of Tina, I not only have become a better writer, a better teacher, a better public speaker, but also a better person.

I presently teach high school in Bergen County and I carry Tina with me daily. In my classes, I also use many of her mantras such as: "Maximize content, minimize words", "You will put your name on that?!" and my favorite, "Contractions are only for pregnant women."

On my desk there is plethora of pictures that I refer to as my "collection of favorites." These picture range from present to past students, friends, etc, but in the middle of these pictures sits a picture of Tina and me. My students often ask, "Is this your girlfriend/ wife?" My response is always, "No, just a dear friend of mine who has passed. I only wish I could be half the person she was." My students just look at me with curiosity. I then explain to him or her the "power of Tina."

I am sure she is looking down at us, smiling, hopefully knowing the profound influence she had on so many people. I am also sure in the dark days of our lives, she sends us the courage, the strength, the confidence and the power to move through our day.

Thank you for paying such a wonderful tribute to our friend. May we always remember "the power of Tina."

Anonymous said...

I am embarassed to say that I just found out today of Ms Lane's passing...she was an excellent teacher, friend, and better person. I echo all the sentiments stated here and then some...very sad to hear about this...

Naumann Chaudry
Wessex Wire Editor-in-Chief 1992-93
Class of 1993

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