It seems appropriate to make the first person that I thank my elementary school English mentor, Meredith Campbell. Without a lot of beating around the bush, I was a smarter-than-average kid, and the school set me up with a mentor to let me read books at a much higher grade level and to help me with my writing. I loved my time with Mrs. Campbell, and having a personal one-on-one teacher was a rare opportunity normally limited to families of means.
Mrs. Campbell taught me a lot of things about words and vocabulary and Latin and Greek roots and that sort of thing (though nothing much about grammar, which probably contributed to my current approach to grammar, which is "whatever looks good"). But probably the most useful lesson she taught me had nothing to do with written language at all.
Often our time together would be in the mornings, and she'd bring along a couple Croissan'wiches from Burger King and share one with me. (Best... teacher... ever.) And then one day she brought one, and she ate it in front of me. She ate it slowly, enjoying every bite. I was upset, and she didn't care. Then when she was done, she looked at me matter-of-factly and said that I should learn to say "thank you" when people do nice things for me.
That was a very effective lesson. So thanks, Mrs. Campbell, for putting up with me, and helping me to not grow up to be a pretentious douchebag.