Life of James Webb


English Teacher Mr. Webb enjoys hanging out with his colleagues.

Every day, James Webb gets to school bright and early. But he is not there to learn. He’s got a boatload of tasks to accomplish to prepare for his high school students. 

Ames High School English teacher James Patrick Webb is often overlooked as an average teacher in the corner of the 1600s POD, but there’s more than meets the eye to him as a person.

“The life of a teacher isn’t always that glamorous, but it is always important. There’s nothing more important to me than living a life that matters.”

With a jam-packed work agenda, James Webb is an ambitiously sedulous teacher running around to staff meetings, grading student work, and teaching classes. Not only does he have a wide range of courses he teaches, but he also educates a wide range of students.

Ames High School English teacher James Webb has been chasing his passion since 1998. When he’s not in the classroom, you’ll find him making music, traveling, hanging out with his family, and playing sports.

Born in Sacramento, California, Webb moved to the Midwest to pursue a career in teaching. He was hired in Ames and has been teaching for over 20 years.

Webb arrives at school every day with a workday ahead of him. There are countless things to do.

“I get to school at 7:30 AM and leave at 4:30 PM,” Webb said. “During this time, I plan, prep, teach, grade, and go to meetings.”

There are many aspects of his job that challenge him. For example, his job takes a lot of patience to deal with students and time to spend on instruction and discipline.

“It’s just a very demanding job,” Webb said. “So it just demands a lot of time and emotional energy, and then legislation and things like that. And there’s an increasing … lot of scrutiny of teachers and what we teach.”

This year has been notably peculiar for Webb, seeing that one of the classes he’s teaching this year is English 9 Workshop. This is a class mandatory for all freshmen. Even then, he still loves seeing his students.

“Honestly just my students, every day, that’s what I look forward to,” Webb said. “I haven’t taught freshmen for a while, and it’s just a learning curve to work with freshman boys. I get worn down and don’t have [the] patience with silliness and stuff like that. Sometimes immaturity frustrates me.”

Even though James Webb is passionate about his job, sometimes all the stress can get to him. He gets worn down and may lose patience sometimes with his students. When he begins to get ”emotionally invested [in his students’ work] and then they struggle it’s really a fallback” for him and it is one of his biggest challenges. He combats this by “doing the things [he] love[s] and [tries] to set boundaries so [he doesn’t] get overwhelmed.”

Additionally, he credits a few of his closest colleagues, Ginny Seibert, Kate Engelkes, Alex Grapp, and Jessica Zeiss.

“They make me laugh, and they support and challenge me,” Webb said. “All those things.”

Webb’s true ‘why’ always manages to shine through the dark times and push him to keep going. He loves teaching his students more than anything else. Ever since he began more than 20 years ago, Webb hasn’t – and still won’t – look back. 

“I genuinely love working with people and it’s good to pour into other people you don’t feel sorry for yourself and it’s easier to let go of anxiety when your focus is on other people. It’s a good thing.”