Mr. Michael Bennett is the Dean of Student Affairs, the 9th Grade Dean and an English teacher at Weber.
Mr. Bennett says that he became a teacher because he loved being a student. He first became interested in teaching while tutoring high school students in an SAT program in Harlem while studying at Columbia University. The program was designed for students who were the first in their family to apply to college. This experience had a profound impact on Mr. Bennett and his interest in making a difference in students’ lives. “It’s inspiring and motivating for me to see kids push through their struggles. My favorite thing is when I see a student struggle with something and then see when they 'get it' for the first time.”
Mr. Bennett’s father was a seventh-grade social studies teacher and was a major influence on him. His father helped him solve his own problems and become more independent, which is something he tries to do with his students every day. Mr. Bennett is a parent as well, and he says that his teaching and his parenting are each influenced by the other. He is learning when to step back and let his students solve their own problems and to know when he needs to intervene.
Mr. Bennett is known for his teaching creativity. When asked where he gets his inspiration for class ideas, he said from articles that he reads, as well as psychology and media, but especially from the people with whom he works, saying “I have a really solid team.”
Mr. Bennett has always had an interest in marine biology, and his favorite book is Moby Dick, so when he was offered the opportunity to pitch an elective course, he was excited to create “Salt Life,” a course centered in marine fiction. He says that the course is “inspiring as a teacher because he can learn and investigate with his students together.”
Mr. Bennett’s transition from teacher to dean was difficult for him because it “changed his relationship to everyone in the school.” He says, however, that now he is more empathetic to students who are solving issues. Mr. Bennett spends most of his time in face-to-face conversations, helping students with conflict resolution. He enjoys helping students realize who they are and to develop self-knowledge. His favorite thing about Weber is that students and teachers “have the opportunity to build deep connections with one other.”
Mr. Bennett says that Weber has helped him develop a broader sense of ethics and a deeper appreciation for diversity as well as a profound appreciation for Judaism. Mr. Bennett has been chosen to speak at this year’s graduation ceremony. He says that he is excited and nervous to speak about expectations to the community about the importance of life’s milestones.
Written by Sloane Warner, Class of 2019