James Webb’s passion for giving back to his profession and his ability to teach students how to master words and ideas that can change the world have been noticed. Webb, an English teacher and Mentor Teacher at Ames High School, is the 2015 recipient of the Iowa Council of Teachers of English Distinguished Service Award.
Erin Miller, a Teacher on Special Assignment for Language Arts, Social Studies, Music, Counseling, said Webb has a vision for what good English teaching can and should look like.
“He is the master of teachable moments, using the world around him to elevate students to places they never know or never considered reaching,” she said.
Webb admits there was a time in his career when he was growing cynical and disillusioned.
“After a few years of teaching, I felt discouraged and isolated,” he said.
When a peer encouraged him to attend an Iowa Council of Teachers of English conference, Webb said he discovered he was part of a community.
“Teachers just like me were giving up their limited time and resources to gather and encourage one another and share what they had learned in their teaching journeys,” he said.
Webb said his involvement with ICTE has taught him that teachers have a responsibility, not just to students, but to each other.
“I have become passionate about raising up young teachers and spurring on the veterans like me who sometimes convince themselves that none of this matters,” he said. “It does matter. We matter. Teachers matter.”
Webb is a frequent presenter at ICTE, and served for several years on the executive board. He has moonlighted as a composition teacher at Des Moines Area Community College, and coordinated with Iowa State University professors in composition and the performing arts. At Ames High School, Webb’s work has focused on curriculum integration and alignment; on leadership roles in initiatives such as Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered System of Support, and on identifying, developing and mentoring young teachers.