Astaircase, a refusal, and a din- ner party. These three things led to the formation of a com- pany, the further bonding of
a mother and daughter, and the avenue
through which a legacy could be passed
down. Here’s my story.
My mom, Robin Finley, began teaching public school language arts in 1971
in California. Ten years later, she, my
grandmother, and I moved to Alaska.
She was a veteran teacher at this point,
but being the new teacher in the Anchorage school, she didn’t have a classroom;
she had to move around from room to
room with all of her teaching materials on a cart while various teachers took
their planning periods throughout the
day. This particular school was two stories, which meant traveling up and down
stairs since there was no elevator.
The school had given Mom one classroom set of grammar books to use.
These textbooks would have been too
cumbersome to carry up and down the
stairs every day, so Mom had a meeting
with her department chairs to explain
the situation and request a second set of
books, one set for each floor. They de-
clined her request, and quite simply out
of logistical necessity, Analytical Gram-
mar was born.
My mom began creating worksheets
that taught grammar in a linear, logical
sequence. She would write out her lesson
plans a week ahead of time and have all
the materials ready for her students. That’s
actually the most invaluable thing about
Analytical Grammar. It was classroom
tested for about a decade with eighth grade
students before the materials were sold. My
mom tweaked and tested and wrote and
refined each topic over the years. Still, Analytical Grammar was never intended for
market. All that changed, however, after a
dinner conversation one night.
The principal of another local school
was dining one evening with a family
whose child had been in my mom’s class
the year before. The principal was im-
pressed with the child’s grasp of gram-
mar. After he learned about my mom’s
grammar materials, he called her up and
asked if he could purchase her program
for use in his school. Mom agreed, put
together the materials, and formed the
company in order to sell the product.
That was in 1996. Twenty years later, that
school in Anchorage is still using Ana-
lytical Grammar with its students!
I, too, had my mother as a teacher for
eighth grade English. I always lament
that that’s the closest I ever got to being homeschooled! My mother was an
Anchorage institution, and I was always
asked if I would grow up to be a teacher
like her. “Uh, no, thank you!” was my
usual reply—sometimes with an eye roll.
I graduated from high school in 1992,
graduated from college in 1996, and entered the Air Force as a public affairs officer in 1998. In 2002, my husband and
by Erin Finley Karl
The History of
I wish I could go back and thank that
school for not having an elevator . . .