by James Wayne
Regular contributor to the Gazette
February 1, 2009
In The Middle School
They think they are so cool, or kewel,
the boys beginning to feel like men,
the girls beginning to look and feel like women.
I laugh inside, my face straight.
In their desks, in the halls, they yell and talk
of school, which has lasted forever in their lives,
and will last forever, or so it seems. Four years ahead
is too long. Four years ago, they were ten, nine, eight.
I stand in the front of the room or by their desks,
straining to see the adults they will become,
seeking to make the path to that adulthood straight
in the desert of adolescent ignorance.
Not to judge them, or condemn their silly fads, or laugh
out loud as they preen and poise. I, the path in the desert,
who can only smile and not laugh, help, pray for, love,
pass or fail them as they choose to work or not,
preach, impose consequences, grade, tell and listen to
silly jokes, hear secret fears, seeking to ignite
internal fires to burn serenely over life, or gutter out,
or blaze into incandescence; my monument, my justification.
James Wayne has taught third grade and every grade from fifth to twelfth during a full-time career of 34 years, either in regular classrooms or in AG or AP classes. He began his writing prompts as a way to help teachers improve writing scores in his district. A native of North Carolina, James is a graduate of Duke University and a Vietnam Veteran, having served with the 101st Airborne Division. He continues to work part time for Onslow County Schools as a coordinator of the Academic Derby, a televised scholastic competition serving elementary, middle, and high schools. James resides in Jacksonville, North Carolina.