His first name, Wilbury, had a slightly frivolous sound, like that of a furry character from Beatrix Potter or A.A. Milne, but no student would have thought of using it, even behind his back, for Mr. Crockett was the antithesis of frivolity, and his control over his troops would have been the envy of boot camp drill instructors. These troops were students in English classes at Wellesley High School, in a conspicuously affluent suburb a dozen miles west of Boston. So affluent, in fact, that a number of its sons and daughters were sent off to the private boarding schools that have long been a major industry in New England. Those who remained found a several-tiered program in English in the local high school. And those who chose the top tier discovered that Mr. Crockett was their instructor in English 21, 31, and 41—the three-year sequence that stretched from the tenth to the twelfth grade. This unusual sequence created an unusual opportunity that education schools, for which Mr. Crockett had little regard, call student-teacher interaction. Five classes a week, nine months a year, three years. That's a lot of interaction, and while everybody cut gym and skipped social studies and foreign language from time to time, no one missed Mr. Crockett's invariably stimulating, sometimes frustrating, and relentlessly challenging classes.