Mid-South poet searches for the teacher that changed her life

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A former high school student is on the hunt for the teacher that changed her life.

The Mid-South poet said she has searched for the former Craigmont high school teacher that helped her reach the success she has experienced.

However, she came empty when it came to the search.

Tara Stringfellow said her path to literary success started in the halls of Craigmont.

"When I moved to Memphis--I grew up in Japan, and we moved here to Raleigh," Stringfellow said. "We didn't have two pennies to rub together some nights, so he did a lot for me."

The published poet said her work is dedicated to young teens facing challenges.

"I write for girls in North Memphis who go to sleep hungry," she said.

For years, Stringfellow said her family struggled financially, and she knows what it is like to be hungry and homeless.

"There were hungry nights. We lived out of a van for a month until we could get Section 8 housing in Raleigh," she said.

However, there was a place she was able to escape her problems and poverty. It was in the classroom of her favorite English teacher, Thomas Cook.

"He was like my everything. So, he taught me in 10th grade and also for 12th grade AP English, literature, and his class was the reason I went to school," Stringfellow said.

She graduated Craigmont in 2003 and went to study law. She then went to study poetry at Northwestern University.

As she finishes her next novel, she is looking for the man who inspired it all.

"Just let him know that I'm really thankful for everything he's done for me," she said. "I wouldn't be anything I was today without him."

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