Mrs. Hardey's sixth grade English class was challenging. My seat was in the first row, near the door. This was best, any further back and I could have easily lost interest. But I did not, I was fascinated, diagramming sentences, there was nothing greater than shooting my hand up with the correct answer, "prepositional phrase!". We wrote research papers, with footnotes, and bibliographies; my chosen topic, Gothic architecture. We did demonstration speeches, Chris made brownies and accidentally brought a hard cooked egg (of course I now believe it was all a ruse, part of his ongoing hilarity), Mike showed us all how a bathtub ring is formed. It was the first time I remember really being challenged in school and as much as I complained, I loved it. Mrs. Hardey was the teacher you loved to hate, but if you did well, there was an amazing feeling of accomplishment.
Years earlier I looked up at my grandmother and cooed "goowoo". She smiled back and said "goowooLY dear", and so it began, for the next 30 years she corrected my English at every chance, and I gave her ample opportunity. Despite my frustration she persevered, not letting me get away with one "play good", my guffaws always met with immediate modification, and explanation. My counter was usually "but Mimi, everyone says that" and she would smile and say "it does matter dear, you'll see", and like so many things, she was right, and I am grateful.
And today, thanks to the daily English lessons and the stern and demanding classroom of Mrs. Hardey, bad grammar is like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. It's everywhere, Applebee's based an entire marketing campaign on "Eating Good in the Neighborhood", eek, that's enough to keep me out of Applebee's for the rest of my life. News reporters use adjectives when they need adverbs and perhaps the most egregious, a principal at one of the grade schools we are considering answered a parent's question this way "that is where we're at". The school is wonderful, highly regarded in the city, but can I entrust my children to an educator who dangles her prepositions?