The Collegiate School for Girls opened its doors to seventy-five students in September 1915. In a white-glove, traditional town like Richmond Virginia, the idea of educating young women for college when they couldn’t even vote was remarkable. But the school succeeded. For almost fifty years Collegiate stood in two stately three-story brick buildings at 1617 and 1619 Monument Avenue. In the early sixties the Collegiate School for Girls, following Collegiate Country Day and families to the suburbs, moved to a new campus west of the city and admitted the first class of boys.
When a school celebrates its 100th birthday, it’s time for cake and stories, stories celebrating beloved teachers.
And Helen Tanner is a beloved teacher.
In the summer of 2007 I was lucky enough to spend several happy hours with Helen, interviewing her and reminiscing about her years at Collegiate as a student and as a teacher. I took these recordings to a week-long course at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, Making It Sing: An Audio Documentary Institute. Although I was the producer, Helen is really the one who made the stories sing. She is a splendid storyteller, and I invite you to enjoy her lively memories and photographs from the Torch.