SFWHS Alumnus Ben Weber receives prestigious award for teaching Social Studies

San Francisco Waldorf School is excited to announce that alumnus Benjamin Weber, Class of 2003, received the Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year award for high school from the National Council for the Social Studies. This achievement recognizes his outstanding work at the Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science School in Los Angeles. Ben is committed to teaching and enjoys “the immediacy of the work at hand, learning from the students and knowing that you make a difference each and every day.”

Ben will be formally recognized at the NCSS Annual Conference in December where he will present his award-winning work. “The 2011 NCSS Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award means a lot because my students nominated me and because I feel recognized by my peers around the country for bringing some Waldorf techniques to public school education.” When asked for specifics about what aspects of Waldorf methods he is able to incorporate, Ben cited “teaching thematically, making the learning relevant to the students’ lives, infusing art as much as possible, and pushing students actively to construct rather than passively receive knowledge.”

The NCSS is the largest association dedicated to Social Studies Education in the United States, serving teachers in history, civic, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law-related education both nationally and internationally. According to the NCSS, social studies “promotes knowledge of and involvement in civic affairs. And because civic issues--such as health care, crime, and foreign policy--are multidisciplinary in nature, understanding these issues and developing resolutions to them requires multidisciplinary education.”

Upon graduating SFWHS in 2003, Ben attended Oberlin College and double majored in History and Politics with a minor in African American Studies. He studied abroad in London and at Oxford University, and conducted research for his honors thesis in Jamaica. He received his Master’s in Teaching from Brown University in 2008, and subsequently joined the faculty at Marc and Eva Stern School in East Los Angeles. There he taught U.S. and AP U.S. History through the 2010-2011 school year. During this time, he was actively involved with the Cityhood for East LA movement and coached a Policy Debate team in the Urban Debate League. In September 2011, Ben matriculated into the PhD program in History at Harvard University.

After receiving his PhD, Ben plans to either [teach at the University level] or perform youth related advocacy work, perhaps at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ben feels that his education at SFWS was the ideal preparation for his career in teaching high school, as well as his PhD work at Harvard. The Waldorf pedagogical philosophy gave Ben a life-long curiosity and love for learning. Ben relates, “The teachers were unparalleled. Joan Caldarera taught me how to write, and showed by example the kind of detailed feedback I have always aspired to provide my own students. Meg Gorman made us read critically and prepared us for college-style discussions. Our science teachers Caroline Alba, John Burket, Paolo Carini, helped us to become keen observers and empowered us to reach our own conclusions, and in math, Dr. Carini taught us to derive our own formulas. Astrid Thiersch brought us into balance through Eurythmy. All this, plus Patty Townsend’s art curriculum and singing with my dad (David Weber), assured that the whole human being was educated.”