Meltzer wrote the bestselling political thriller The Inner Circle, the nonfiction hits Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter, and co-created the WB television series Jack & Bobby . Quite likely, none of these stories would have been told without his teachers.
“I went to Highland Oaks and North Miami Beach, and it changed my life,” Meltzer says.
English teacher Sheila Spicer wanted to place Meltzer in an honors English class but couldn’t make it fit into his schedule, so she fashioned a personalized program for him.
“She was the first person who ever told me I could write, the first person other than my parents that told me you’re good at something,” he says.
A decade later, when Meltzer’s first book was published, he knocked on her classroom door. She didn’t recognize him at first — he had hair when he was in school — but when she found out how much she had inspired him, she cried.
“These people, I owe them every day,” says Meltzer, 42, who names characters in his books after his favorite teachers. “Always the good guys.’’
Thomas ‘Ken’ Mattingly
Miami Edison Senior High, 1954; Apollo 16 astronaut.
Flying to the moon on the 1972 Apollo mission was an honor for Mattingly, the command module pilot for Apollo 16.
“It was a fun, exciting thing that had some danger but, my goodness, what an exceptional opportunity.’’
Mattingly, 76, looks back fondly on his Edison years, remembering a chemistry teacher who stressed discipline.
“The other person who had a big impact — probably not intentional — in the way my career unfolded was Bob Lawrence, the orchestra director. He was a character.’’
Lawrence was an ROTC advisor and was supposed to line up graduating seniors for the exam. He had forgotten and urged his music students to sign up at the last minute so the school would have enough applicants.
“He was the catalyst who got me a Navy ROTC scholarship. Without that, my world would have been, who knows?”
Coral Gables Senior High, 1968; Space Shuttle Endeavour astronaut.
Winston Scott performed five space walks in his two flights aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1996 and 1997. Walking the halls of Coral Gables High decades earlier as a member of the first integrated class helped him find his way.
“I went to Gables with the first large number of African Americans,” says Scott, 62. “This was a large cultural shift for us. Gables was a huge school, historically white. This broadened our opportunities because we were exposed to such a nice facility, nice books, equipment.’’
Scott played in the school band, graduated from Florida State University and completed naval aviation training, which led to NASA.
“I can trace that back to Gables. I would not have had the perspective and education which led to my career.”
The Hall of Fame induction, he says, is particularly poignant.
“I’m always invited to go to places all over the world, but it’s nice to be invited back home and recognized by the hometown crowd.’’
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