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A high school English teacher also made a lasting impression on Denzel. To this day, Denzel says he owes his passion for reading to Jonathan Underwood, a teacher who urged his students to read The New York Times every day.

"I went through everything—F. Scott Fitzgerald—just read everybody," Denzel says. "[I] read book after book after book after book because he inspired us to read."

The last time Denzel saw his high school teacher, Jonathan was 24 years old. Today, he is 61, and he's in the audience! "I'm real proud of you," he says to Denzel.

Jonathan has another surprise in store for Denzel. He hands over a book of poems that Denzel's English 11 class composed nearly 40 years ago! For the first time, Denzel reads his poem publicly.

"Waking up new, stretching and yawning. Looking through the window at the great white morning. Dropping back down, as in breaking the sling. The bear says to himself, 'I'll wait 'til spring.'"
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FROM: Denzel Washington
Published on October 31, 2006

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