Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson
It's not easy being a teacher at Lark Creek Elementary – seems like the students will always find a reason to dislike them. Even though Jess thinks Miss Edmunds is beautiful and worships her, other kids criticize her because of how she appears: "the kids would make fun of Miss Edmunds' lack of lipstick or the cut of her jeans" (2.20). From this we can tell that Miss Edmunds is single, where some of the other teachers are married; she doesn't wear makeup, and she's not afraid to dress in comfortable clothing. She creates her own style and doesn't abide by public opinion. We might even say that she sounds like a feminist. Not quite sure what she's doing in Lark Creek.
But Miss Edmunds works hard to inspire her students and reach out to them. Think of the kinds of songs she teaches them in music class: "My Beautiful Balloon" (2.18), "This Land Is Your Land" (2.18), "Free to Be You and Me" (2.18, 4.14), and "Blowing in the Wind" (2.18). Those definitely encourage people to be themselves, to embrace their identities, and to be brave and inventive – songs by people like Bob Dylan and Marlo Thomas. Miss Edmunds also encourages Jess to keep drawing multiple times, calling him "unusually talented" (2.16), and of course taking him with her to the National Gallery. When she learns she's the first person to take him to a museum, she says, "Great […] My life has been worthwhile after all" (10.53). She thinks highly of Jess in the same way that Mrs. Myers thinks highly of Leslie. It's an awful coincidence that spending time with her is what takes Jess away from Terabithia and enables Leslie to attempt to go by herself.