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Aaron Berner

PO Box 199, Guerneville CA, 95446 — 907-978-8730 —

Dear Principal and Hiring Committee,

Last week, while standing in front of my 4th period senior class, I paused slightly before
delivering the last lines of “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley: “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and
despair!/ Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’” As the last words faded into silence, I scanned the room
and heard Logan mutter, “Deep” to no one in particular. The bell rang, and the class shuffled off to
lunch, pondering possible interpretations. We were not studying poetry; rather, we had just
concluded Macbeth. Sharing a personally meaningful poem or quote is our customary end-of-class
activity; this poem connected directly to our studies. So, next class we returned to “Ozymandias”,
discussing the meaning and significance. The class made connections to both Macbeth and the TV
show Breaking Bad, which also features a power-hungry man undone by ambition (“Ozymandias” is
also the title of the antepenultimate episode in the series). As I watched students explain the poem
to each other and develop a deeper understanding of both the text we were studying and its
connection to the wider world, I thought, “This is what teaching should feel like.”
English as a subject uniquely lends itself to asking “Why?” Therefore, I plan for students to deeply
consider content, and to see it mirrored in their lives in relevant and meaningful ways. My lessons are
designed to form both critical thinking and communication skills. In an increasingly globalized world,
I want students to leave high school as analytical, informed, and capable citizens and human beings.
Teaching high school students is especially exciting because they are at such a critical formative
stage of their lives. In addition to a strong technical foundation with language, I strive to instill in
them a sense of confidence, an ability to persevere, and a willingness to explore.
Over the past ten years, I have had the opportunity to develop a range of skills while working with
youth of all ages, including with K-8 students as a literacy tutor, mentor, basketball coach, and
summer camp director. I have worked with English Learners, struggling readers, and high achievers
in both special education and general education classrooms. I am well versed in common core, state
standards, and the current ELD standards and framework. I received training in restorative justice
practices, which is important because I want to approach behavioral issues and conflicts as a
problem solver, treating students with care and respect. Students must feel cared for before they can
care about school, so constructing positive relationships and building an inclusive community is at
the forefront of my instructional practices.
Activist Lilla Watson once said, “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time. But if
you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” As I
embark on the next step of my own educational journey, my greatest hope is that I am able to co-
create a liberating educational experience with my students. I want them to not only be able to
access the content, but through it be able to consider and reflect on themselves, the world, and their
connection to and place within it. Education is a shared endeavor, and I believe students who are
empowered as true partners in their education will achieve great things.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Aaron Berner