I never had Mrs. Scherer for English. She retired before I was old enough to take her class. But she is one of my idols. If I could, I’d fly her out to Tulsa and turn her loose on my kids for a couple of days. I imagine they’d learn more from her in two days than they’ll learn from me all year. She was that good.

One of her former students took a video camera to his class reunion. Thirty-five years later, all of those kids can still recite their helping verbs. Click here to behold the greatness.

Her methods obviously influenced the women who taught my junior-high English classes, because I can still recite all my linking verbs and all my prepositions, too. I’m about 17 years younger than the people in the video.

Incidentally, Mrs. Scherer’s late husband, Gus, was my grade-school principal. He was awesome. I think of him every time I silence a classroom full of noisy kids by raising one eyebrow and staring at them until they sense the awkwardness and settle down.