Substitute English teacher Ben Sherak loves to produce music, play piano, volunteer and play baseball. As a lifelong lover of English, he has been writing poetry since 6th grade. During the pandemic, Sherak started a movie analysis club with a group of fellow Brookline High School graduates. Some of his most beloved films include “Rookie Bookie” and “Vertigo” by Alfred Hitchcock. His favorite television series is The Sopranos.
Having graduated from the high school, what is it like teaching at the school you went to?
I substituted in 2018, and that was really surreal. It was like waking up from a dream about being a student, only to realize that you’re actually a teacher. That was pretty hard to wrap my head around.
We’re only a few weeks into online school, but what would you say are the biggest challenges and blessings that you weren’t expecting?
It doesn’t feel real enough. I don’t feel like I really am able to influence or touch a student in the same way. actually know that what I am saying is connecting with them. But the unforeseen advantage is some of the ease in switching between different tasks. We are all looking at the same screen, we are in the same place, I can see everyone’s face at the same time. There’s little things like that that are nice.
Can you say more about why poetry is your favorite style of writing?
The carefulness that’s required. Every word has to count. It has more weight because there’s fewer There are different forms of poems that are creative via restriction, but I think I was really enamored with the idea that I can just put whatever down. That’s what got me.
As an alum who is now teaching here, what do you think the high school offers that is unique to Brookline?
What’s unique, I think, is a level of dedication from the teachers, and generally just a high capacity for complicated thought from the students. I’m just amazed that even sometimes when particular skills haven’t been built, kids are coming to the table having just been around good educators and good education and other smart peers enough that their thinking is really sharp almost across the board.
You mentioned that you were in School Within a School (SWS) for three years. How did being a part of that community help you as a student?
It felt like the right place to be. I felt on a similar wavelength to the other students, and the teachers were challenging me in creative ways as opposed to what I felt was more standard.
During quarantine, what were you doing to stay sane and entertained?
I was living at that time with two of my closest friends. We were kind of losing it. We watched a bunch of crappy, fun movies. We watched “Face Off,” which is a movie about John Travolta and Nicholas Cage switching faces. One of my friends who was really kind of melting down under the stress started putting on these puppet shows. And that was good deranged fun.