is for Helen Valentine.
Miss Valentine, to be precise, was my high school sophomore English teacher. Beautiful, tall, dark hair streaked with silver, always simply yet elegantly dressed. A rumor had it that in her youth she had been a county beauty queen. Another rumor was that Karen Valentine is her niece. Rumors not withstanding, Miss Valentine was an excellent teacher from whom I learned grammar and clear writing skills I use every day.
Miss Valentine wrote a grammar and style handbook, her own version of Strunk and White. Hand-typed and mimeographed, each of her students received a copy on the first day of classes. She read essays, meticulously noting grammar and style errors with references to applicable sections of the handbook. Students were required to write the rule, correct the error, and return the paper to receive credit for the assignment.
Three teachers from my junior and senior high school years stand out for their significant contributions to my education. I will always be grateful to Miss Valentine for her subtle yet powerful teaching style and its impact on my life.