Jim Duff: Life Sciences • Holmes Junior High School This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 23, 2013
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I stumbled into class just seconds before the bell blared, running into a jar stuffed with a pickled guinea pig. Of course. Dead animals.

“Welcome to Life Sciences!” a voice boomed. I jumped as I caught sight of him: a tall man with Einstein-like hair, thick glasses, and a lab coat stained with chemicals. I saw students' eyes nearly pop out of their heads as they viewed Mr. Duff. The rest of the year was going to be interesting, I thought.

Three months later, I had gotten used to the confusing maze of hallways and middle-school life. I was even starting to like Life ­Sciences. I found it fascinating that something as small and simple as a cell could make up all life as we know it, and I was especially interested in human anatomy and physiology. In ­October, Mr. Duff noticed my fascination with biology and invited me to join the eighth grade Science Bowl team, even though I was only in seventh grade. I ­eagerly attended meetings and pored over college-level microbiology and anatomy textbooks. Instead of dreading fourth period, I now looked forward to it.

Just as December was dawning, my parents brought shocking news. We were moving. I was completely devastated. My young heart couldn't take the change from a small rural school to a large, bustling school in the heart of Atlanta. I would miss my friends, and I would miss my teachers – especially Mr. Duff, who had grown to become my favorite. When I told him the news, he just smiled sadly and said, “Well, you've got to fly from the nest someday. Just remember that you might fall a few times while you're trying to fly.” As I flew from a small town to a big city, I was thrown into the fast-paced life of high school. I fell down many times, but I was always able to get back up thanks to the advice of Mr. Duff.

He was an unforgettable teacher who taught me more in a few months than I would have learned in years. He was the epitome of the mad scientist, filled with passion that ignited the first sparks of curiosity in his students. This spark would later grow into a flame, burning brighter and brighter. The largest of flames starts with just a tiny spark. He was the teacher who sparked my passion for science, and the flame of knowledge burns brighter in me still.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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