SFWHS Physics Teacher Paolo Carini received the Herbst Foundation’s Excellence in Teaching Award this year. The award along with checks for both Dr. Carini and SFWS were presented in front of students and faculty at the May 7th High School Assembly. Below is the text of the speech Dr. Carini made upon receiving this award:
It is an honor to receive this teaching award on behalf of the many teachers, past and present, who have contributed to the success of this remarkable Waldorf high school in San Francisco. For 15 years, we have worked hard together with passion and dedication to create a place where young people have an opportunity to learn in freedom, and, in freedom, discover their individual calling in life.
At our school, we believe in the values of a multidimensional education, where no subject is less important than another and where all breathe together like well-tuned instruments in a large orchestra, always supporting each other with the purpose of facilitating the intellectual, emotional, and physical development of our students. Yes, the whole IS more than the sum of the parts!
As educators, we know that our main job is to remove obstacles to help the students to fulfill their destinies. It is a humbling profession. There are so many boulders, cliffs, mountains to contend with! Some obstacles we need to walk around, some we need to climb; at times, we need to simply accept that we took a wrong turn and must go back to find a different way. We do all of this, while still trying to understand where each student needs to go. So, in teaching, the shortest path between A and B is rarely a straight line; in fact, often we don't even know where A and B are! We see that teaching is not an exact science, and this, for a physicist like me, presents some extra challenges! Fortunately, we all like challenges, and we hope that our students will gradually learn to like them too.
So, you might ask, how can we teachers succeed in this profession; how can we really help the students discover and fulfill their goals in life? My answer always goes back to this: by developing a genuine interest in the students as human beings and a compassion for their struggles; in other words, we develop our capacity to love. Yes, we need to be well qualified to teach a certain subject, we need to be passionate about what we teach, but above everything else we need to learn how to love the students, even at times when we feel that they are driving us crazy!
Given such lofty ideals, we find success is hardly something that can be measured by standardized tests and often the benefits of our work manifest later in life. Therefore, it is reassuring to have a well-known, outside institution, like the Herbst Foundation, recognize that indeed we ARE moving in the right direction and to see them extend their support to us. So, on behalf of the San Francisco Waldorf High School, I thank you for the recognition and the support you bestowed on us by designating me as a recipient of the 2012 Herbst Award for Teaching Excellence. Thank you!