Ms. Lefkovitz: The teacher who inspired me the most

At Thanksgiving I asked you, "Who first inspired you in the arts?"

My earliest memories -- not of the arts, but period -- are of my father creating wonderful works of art with his bare hands. I wanted to emulate him. When I was four years old, all I wanted to do was create things too, bring my ideas to life. I would get a pencil and draw characters and images on the backs of envelopes and on scratch sheets of paper. I learned at an early age that my imagination could take me to far away places.

I was fortunate to have arts in my school too. The teacher who inspired me most when I was young was Anne Lefkovitz, the former drama director at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Laboratory School in Evanston. When I was in grade school, everyday in Ms. Lefkovitz' class was an exciting new adventure. She taught me, through performance and improvisation, the importance of creativity, risk-taking, and teamwork.

No other teacher inspired as much confidence in me as Ms. Lefkovitz. She motivated me to step outside my comfort zone; she pushed me to take on leading roles in Shakespearean plays; she encouraged me to go to movie auditions and casting calls.

While I never landed a Hollywood role, I did receive the greatest gift of all: the gift of creativity and self-expression. As we enter 2012, I thank Ms. Lefkovitz for challenging me and for helping to stretch the boundaries of my imagination.

Your support helps us in our charge to ensure every student in Illinois -- no matter where they live -- has access to the arts and a teacher like Ms. Lefkovitz in their life.

Will you, in honor of someone who inspired you, make a contribution to Arts Alliance Illinois? A contribution of whatever amount would mean so much to us at this crucial time of possibility.