Staff Spotlight: Bene Webster

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benewebsterBene Webster is a first-year third grade teacher at Akili Academy. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, Webster is a current Teach for America corps member. She graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During her time at Mount Holyoke, she worked at a child care center as an assistant teacher while simultaneously researching child social development in Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms. She has worked in schools in Haiti, Georgia, and Massachusetts.

Webster said she was drawn to the field of education because of her love for children and her own personal struggles throughout her academic career. “I absolutely love working with children,” she said. “I find their creativity, joy, and excitement for new things to be inspiring. I am constantly learning from their perspectives on the world. Taking this love of working with children, I joined Teach for America because of my firm belief that, regardless of personal circumstances, all children deserve equal access to a high quality, loving, and fair education and have the right to pursue their dreams unequivocally. I struggled greatly throughout middle and high school but was able to persevere and succeed due to the consistent support and investment of some of my teachers. I want to pass that on to my students.”

When asked what she finds most rewarding about teaching, Webster said she values the relationships she is able to build with her scholars and their families, as well as the relationships she sees her scholars building with one another. “So often there are commonalities between scholars, and even teachers and scholars, that are unexpected but special, and it can be so fun to discover those things together,” she said.

Webster said her favorite part of teaching is seeing her students experience sudden flashes of comprehension in the classroom. “I am always so amazed by how much scholars can achieve and grow in one small moment,” she said. “It’s so great to watch a scholar, who may have been challenged by a concept, work through it with a partner, and suddenly the light bulb switches and there’s this awesome moment of clarity mixed with pride and satisfaction — and then we all get to celebrate that success together and keep going.”

In reflecting upon how she has grown during her first year as a teacher at Akili, Webster said she values her team and the growth mindset that the staff embraces. “I appreciate working at Akili because there is an underlying expectation that everyone has room to grow and will work their hardest to reach that potential,” she said. “Not only are we encouraged to grow and evolve, but we are also provided with the support and resources needed to be successful. Working at Akili, I have gained confidence in my ability to grow and evolve as a teacher through the support of my fellow teachers and especially my third grade team about curriculum and meeting scholars at their level before pushing them forward. I enjoy working with a group of people who are truly committed to the common values and goals. Everyone is willing to help one another.”