What If

The new 9th grade lineup for Boston High School is the envy of schools everywhere. 1. Leading off, teaching science, is Carl Crawford. He's spent the last several years teaching at Tampa High. In 3 straight school surveys, alumni rated him as "The teacher most likely to change your life." Observers couldn't believe that Boston High landed Crawford.

He's a threat in all aspects of the game: basics (kids leave able to calculate force, mass, and acceleration in their sleep), deep thinking (origins of universe type stuff), and lab procedures (he's a stickler for goggles!)

Crawford signed a 7-year contract which will pay him $165,000 per year, plus the right to two full-time assistants, and a $12,000 per year lab budget.

2. Batting second, teaching history, is Jacoby Ellsbury. Now a 3rd year teacher, he's under contract for an affordable $46,000 per year; he isn't eligible for free agency until next year.

Last year was rough for him. Injuries (wounded pride) and some scuffling with the principal about effort led to some boos from the kids. School leaders and senior teachers says they still have confidence in his upside, though it's clear that if this isn't a breakthrough year, he'll be traded or waived. He's the only question mark in this vaunted lineup.

While he sometimes struggles with questioning kids effectively, his defense -- classroom management moves and relationship building -- is strong.

3. Hitting third, teaching math, is Kevin Youkilis, a never-ending machine of hustle. His numbers are eye-popping: of 7,000 math teachers in Massachusetts, Youk is consistently in the Top Decile in Value-Added gains. Typically, his students arrive to Boston High School having scored around the 20th percentile statewide as 8th graders; after Youk, they're typically at the 55th percentile. He's no nonsense, a gritty teacher.

His legendary Sunday afternoon tutoring sessions ("I hate football anyway," he says) draw large crowds -- even, reportedly, a few kids from other schools. An iconoclast (the principal takes a don't ask/don't tell approach to Youk's in-class tobacco chewing habits), he will earn $124,000 this year. His agent also negotiated for 3 of Youk's top students to attend a summer math camp at school expense, in exchange for their work all year as peer tutors; and an unusual schedule (early departure on Wednesdays so he can coach his nephew's Little League).

4. Batting clean-up is Adriana Gonzales, teaching English. A humble superstar. Nationally board certified, she laughs it off -- "That doesn't necessarily mean squat, it was just something I felt like doing." Voted San Diego Teacher Of The Year the past 3 years, she says "I have no idea what they look for, probably a popularity contest." Her closet is adorned with scores of thank-you letters from former students, many along the lines of "You changed my life." "Oh those," she jokes. "You'll notice a few dangling participles, I need to get them to revise and resend."

Nobody thought she'd want to teach in Boston. It took a monster deal to get her.

The pay is $172,000 per year (which can reach $195,000 with performance incentives). There are perks: the budget for a cross-country class trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival ("Only for the kids who earn it," she says); her own small photocopier ("I. Just. Can't. Handle. The. Constant. Paper. Jams" she often says of traditional office copiers); a panoramic video camera to break down videotape of her classes (she has a Devin McCourty-like devotion to film study); no required professional development sessions ("If they're useful, I'll be there; if not, spare me" she says); and a schoolwide commitment to a vertically aligned curriculum that culminates in Advanced Placement English ("I need to know all of our teachers are committed to winning.")