Teacher Tuesday – Meet Mr. Berman!

Mr. BermanMeet Mr. Berman

Mr. Berman, a six-year veteran of APS.  He serves as the Equity and Excellence Coordinator and is a Special Education Teacher.  He began his career with APS as a student teacher at Swanson.While in college, Mr. Berman worked at URJ Youth Camp Harlam.  It is while working there that he first became interested in becoming a teacher.  “I started college planning to work in film and media production, but after working with two specific kids throughout that summer, I began exploring ways of working with kids as a career. I quickly realized this was one of the best decisions I had ever made.”

Mr. Berman feels that his position plays a very important role in the lives of Swanson students.  “Having multiple roles within APS gives me a unique perspective on the county.  My role as the Equity & Excellence Coordinator gives me the opportunity to work with kids from a wide range of backgrounds and help to give kids opportunities to achieve their potential and explore different interests. This shows itself in a variety of ways.  Whether it’s working with students to engage them in school activities, taking students on field trips to colleges so they’re able to see themselves further their education and expand opportunities, or going to ropes courses to work on leadership skills in a new environment.  Having a role where I can connect with kids from historically marginalized communities and help motivate them, while advocating for them on a school and county level, motivates me to be the best teacher/mentor I can be.”

Mr. Berman has had many proud moments while working at Swanson.  “My proudest moments are when I see students begin to see themselves as powerful, strong, and intelligent individuals capable of anything.  One of my old students exemplifies this perfectly.  I met a 6th grade student in my after-school group BoyzIIMen. He was getting into a fair amount of trouble, not engaged in school, and he did not see a future for himself.  In 7th grade he was assigned to my special education caseload and we really began to change the script for him; getting him to see a bright future for himself. At the same time, we started getting others in his world to see how great he was too. By the time he was an 8th grader he was a strong, positive leader in the school.  All my younger students looked up to him and continue to look up to him.  Now, he is continuing along this path towards greatness both in the classroom, in sports, and in the hallways as a leader and role model.  Watching this young man and empowering him to create the future he wanted for himself is an example of why I love teaching.”

Monica Lozano-Caldera, a former Minority Achievement Coordinator at Swanson, served as a mentor to Mr. Berman.  “When I first started out at Swanson as a student teacher, I met Monica.  Even though I was not paired with her for my student teaching, she made time to give me advice and encourage me to keep pushing through challenges.  When I was hired full-time as a Special Education Teacher we collaborated and worked with many kids.  She showed me how to be a relentless champion for kids; how to hold kids accountable to high expectations while giving them the support, love, and encouragement they needed to reach those expectations.  One of the most important things Monica did for me was to leave me in charge of her boys mentoring group one afternoon when she had to leave early.  That group has evolved into what is now BoyzIIMen.  Through this group, I have had the opportunity to connect with and mentor many kids over the years.  Without Monica, I do not know if I would have applied for my current position of Equity & Excellence Coordinator.”

Mr. Berman would give the following advice to those aspiring to teach, “Kids need champions in their teachers.  People who, in their core, believe that their students can achieve greatness.  There are going to be tough days that test you and your desire to be a teacher, but they are greatly outnumbered by the moments and days where you cannot imagine doing anything else.  On those tough days you must still find ways to show each student how you believe in them.  I would also share the same advice I give to kids: focus on what you can control.  There are a lot of aspects of being a teacher that are beyond our control.  Mandated meetings and paperwork, endless emails, outside of school concerns for our students, and many others. Focusing on things we can control, and influence helps to keep one grounded and solution-oriented instead of getting lost in some frustrating aspects of working in education.”

When asked what he would do if he were not a teacher Mr. Berman replied, “Whenever I think about what job I would want if I wasn’t a teacher, I always come back to one thing; being a cook/chef and having my own restaurant.  I love to cook. It helps me relax, lets me be creative, and express myself.  Just like teaching, I would get to be creative, share who I am, and move a lot.”