2016 Blackboard Award Honoree: Josh Behar

Josh Behar accepts his Blackboard Award; photo by Karen Haberberg

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2016 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Josh Behar
Grade 6, Humanities
Booker T. Washington—M.S. 54

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as a teacher.

The joys are when students are happy and excited, and they want to hang out, or help other students in my room, or just talk and play music. Our connection is what keeps me engaged because the job is fun and I learn a lot every day. The challenges are when I have students that break down crying, or ones that are vastly intelligent but are angry and need structure.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

Debates always excite me: Students are forced to be social, overcome fear, project their voices, research a topic, be persuasive, and harness so many other skills they’ll need in life. In every Social Studies unit I also have an I AM Project, where students dress up and become relevant citizens in each territory we’ve discovered. This forces them to be part of a community and understand the interconnectedness of society and how to run it properly.

Josh Behar; photo by Andrew Schwartz

Over the course of your career, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

My first accomplishment was becoming a full-time Humanities teacher. I was a career-changer with no sub-license and I walked in off the street with my resume in hand and said to the principal: “Will you sponsor me?” A week later she says: “I have a crazy idea.” The next week I was in charge of 120 students for a three-month maternity leave replacement. As soon as it ended, another position opened and I was lucky enough to get a full-time Humanities position.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?

I never had any stand-out teachers in my life. There were good ones, even memorable ones, but none that transformed my life. Sadly, I needed a transformative teacher, or someone that truly recognized my issues and could help me grow in meaningful ways. The reason I became a teacher is to be that person, and it’s the students that motivate me.