Brent Rosen (Cohort 12)
Q: What year did you graduate DeLeT/What cohort and campus are you from?
I graduated from HUC cohort 12 in 2014.
Q: What is your current position?
I am currently at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino, CA. I’m a 4th grade general studies teacher and I run the after-school drama program.
Q: Are you doing anything extra outside of your teaching responsibilities?
Yes! The drama program is outside of my teaching responsibilities. Any time there is any kind of arts program (Generations Day, grade-level productions, etc.), I’m called upon to help with the technical aspect because of everything I do with the drama program.
Q: We hear you have transformed the performing arts program at your school! Can you tell us about this?
When I started at VBS, I came at a time when one of the drama specialists was leaving. My head of school, knowing my background in drama, asked if I would be a part of the program. I began working with another woman to run the program. Because of my background in running teen drama programs, I was able to bring in friends who have experience in the industry to help us bring our program to the next level. We used to have mainly parent volunteers help with sets and costumes, but as of this year, we have a professional set designer who works with our students. Before I came, we didn’t have a lot of tech--we didn’t have sound or lighting--but now we have specialists who incorporate these elements into our performances and all of the other programs we do at VBS.
If you’re looking to start a program, I always say that it’s best to start with an after school program. It’s hard to find time during the day to get a program off the ground. Talk to your administration and let them know that the arts are something that are important to you. At our school, we charge per student to run our club, and then we don’t need to charge for tickets to our shows. The theater arts, in particular, are integral in helping students build confidence in themselves and to combat a fear of public speaking. You need public speaking in any job that you do--you can’t be afraid to put yourself out there and be confident in what you’re doing--so this is a huge selling point in getting the support of your administration. In addition, parents are excited to see their kids on stage. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best performance they’ve ever seen; they’re just excited to see their kids say a few lines or sing a song. Your program doesn’t have to put out huge productions. The important thing is that you’re getting kids on stage and giving them an opportunity to shine. Another selling point is the fact that a drama program builds community and camaraderie. We’ve seen students branch out and build friendships with students they otherwise wouldn’t have just because they share the passion of theater.
Q: What are you listening to/reading these days?
Nothing new, really. But I’m always looking back at my responsive classroom books. Teaching Children to Care lives in my classroom, and whenever I run into a challenge with a student, I go back to it. I have books on Morning Meeting, developing classroom rules, student milestones...all of these are constantly guiding me in my teaching practice.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working at your school?
I have an amazing teaching partner. We have a great relationship--better than I ever could have hoped for. Our administration is incredibly supportive of anything we want to try. Anytime we ask to go to professional development, the administration is ready and willing to send us. I also love that we are so closely connected to a synagogue community. My daughter goes to school with me. My family comes to services and I get to see my students when we come. That’s the reason I’m here: to be part of a community.
Q: What are some lessons you learned in DeLeT that have served you well in your teaching career?
The question should be: what lessons didn’t serve me well? As I said, I’m one of the teachers who lives by Responsive Classroom. I think Morning Meeting is an essential start to the day. My students need and love the process of creating their own class rules. The most important thing in my classroom is that the students know that they have ownership over their own class. My students know that they have choices in everything we do and that they get to guide their own learning.
Q: What makes you proud to be a DeLeT alum?
I don’t even know where to start. I think knowing that we have a community of professionals in the DAN makes me proud. I know that I can consult the DAN with any questions I might have. I often wish I had more time to spend learning from other alumni. The bond that I have with my cohort is something that I’ll forever be proud of. Even though we live in different states and don’t always talk, we know that we can always depend on one another. On top of that, I know I could consult any of my former teachers if I needed any guidance, and that they would all be happy to help me. The thirteen months I spent in DeLeT were some of the most crazy and most wonderful months of my life. Where I am today illustrates that I made the right decision in choosing DeLeT.