Faculty Feature: Mr. Michael Bennett


Mr. Bennett has been teaching at Weber for eight years. (Paula Gould/Paula M. Gould Photography)

Sloane Warner

Mr. Michael Bennett is an English teacher and the Dean of Student Affairs and 9th Grade at Weber. He has been teaching here for eight years. Mr. Bennett came to Weber after meeting past dean Mr. Mitch White at Emory University, where Mr. Bennett was pursuing a master’s degree in Teaching. The two met for coffee and discussed Weber, and Mr. White encouraged Mr. Bennett to apply for a vacant English teaching position. After teaching what he calls the “worst lesson ever,” Mr. Bennett was surprised and excited to receive an offer from the school.

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 course in Harlem during his time at Columbia University. He was taking a course about inequalities in higher education and was tutoring students as part of the course. He said that he enjoyed the feeling of students “getting something.”

Mr. Bennett’s dad was a seventh-grade social studies teacher and was a major influence on his son. Mr. Bennett liked that his dad 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 when he needs to intervene.

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, it was fitting to create “Salt Life,” a course centered in marine fiction. He says that the course is “inspiring as a teacher because [he] can learn with [his] students, investigating together.” Mr. Bennett gets his inspiration for classes from articles that he reads, as well as psychology and media, but especially from the people that he works with. Mr. Bennett likes having a conversation with a colleague on a topic and seeing where it leads. His favorite thing about teaching is seeing a student who struggles with a topic “get it” for the first time and seeing him/her gain more confidence.

Mr. Bennett says that Weber has taught him to “slow down.” He says that students, parents and teachers all need to slow down and think about what they are doing in the moment, instead of focusing on their grades or on college. His favorite thing about Weber is that students and teachers “have the opportunity to build deep connections with everybody.”

Mr. Bennett’s transition from teacher to dean was difficult for him because it “changed his relationship to everyone in the school.” He says that he now 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 develop self-knowledge. 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 his chosen topic, expectations.