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Get To Know Brian Benson: Sterne High School Spanish Teacher

"My goal as an educator is to give students windows to look through and mirrors to reflect on."

Q. What is your experience/background in education?

For the past 15 years I’ve been an outdoor educator, designing programs that focus on mindfulness in nature for students in middle school all the way through college. The bulk of this work was overseas in Central and South America, specifically Costa Rica, Ecuador, Belize, Galapagos Islands, Peru, and Panama. 

To create meaningful and relevant programs I consulted with Spanish and Biology teachers from all different types of schools - independent, waldorf, public, and montessori to familiarize myself with current curriculum and learning objectives. From there I’d build a program that would allow students to apply their classroom learning directly into the field, and weave together Spanish language, Latin American culture, project-based learning, and community service. Community service in particular is very near and dear to my heart and one of my passions. Every year I send volunteers to Costa Rica to work at a transitional home, which houses boys and girls, infants - 18 years of age. Volunteers forge friendships and connections with these boys and girls over art projects, day trips to local beaches, visits to wildlife rescue centers, and on occasion an organic farm to learn how make their own organic soap. These trips range from 8 days to 2 weeks with the occasional summer trip. 

I am also a Wilderness First Responder and a safety geek. In addition to designing numerous local and overseas programs, I also provide field risk management for each and every expedition I lead. This involves evacuation plans, practical and emotional safety and strict protocols so that the participant is not only safe during the duration of the expedition but is well prepped before departure. 

Q.  What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher?

One of my favorite things is witnessing the kids breaking through thresholds -- especially with language because it can be so nuanced and difficult to understand and comprehend. But when they get it and that connection is made there is no going back, they have learned, it shows their progression. Then they take what they have learned into the world and add it to their ever evolving story.  And that is why I teach. 

Q. What is something most people don’t know about you?

I am a poet.  I rode BMX park in the early X-Games and presently love long distance Bike Packing.