Brian Bersh: Playing To the Beat of His Own Drum

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Anna Finley

Band director Brian Bersh won this year’s Teacher of the Year Award

Stevie Picot, Sentry Staff Reporter

Far too often, people grow up and settle for a boring, unfulfilling career, discarding their true passions for practicality’s sake. They drift aimlessly through their days, always counting down the minutes until they can go home or collect their next paycheck. In the case of Band Director, Music Department Chair and 2016 Teacher of the Year Brian Bersh, this was never an issue.

For some time before college, Bersh knew that he wanted to go into teaching because of his past experience as a student leader, but he needed to make sure he could still be involved with music, his main passion.

“It never occurred to me that teaching music could be a career until a friend of mine shared his experience as a college music major. Upon reaching college, my own positive experiences within the college music department cemented my decision to pursue music education as a career,” said Bersh.

This revelation propelled Bersh down a winding career path that led him to exciting opportunities like performing at a Keith Urban concert and the Bastad Chamber Music Festival in Sweden, presenting music education research at international venues and traveling all over Asia and Europe. How did such a cultured and involved member of the global music community end up teaching here? He simply had an interest in moving to the Washington area: one that his students are eternally grateful for.

“I think what sets Mr. Bersh apart from most teachers is his constant effort to take feedback from students in order to make the band an enjoyable experience for everyone. He pours his heart and soul into our band,” said junior Ben Celestino.

Bersh’s students all hold him in very high esteem and consider him an excellent teacher and mentor.  

“As a high school music teacher, I have the opportunity to develop a rapport with my students and a relationship with their families that spans four years. Providing students with experiences that contribute to their continued positive growth after high school is incredibly fulfilling,” said Bersh.

This commitment to his students both in and out of the classroom is why Bersh was an easy choice for Teacher of the Year. Few teachers can claim to have better relationships with their students than he does, and no teachers can claim to be more beloved by their students than he is.

“When I heard he won, I honestly wasn’t surprised because I don’t think anyone is more deserving of this award than Mr. Bersh,” said Celestino.  

Bersh realizes this award is a huge honor and was quick to give thanks to his fellow faculty members, administrators, parents and students, all of whom helped make it possible.

“It is very rewarding to know that all my hard work is appreciated,” said Bersh.

He has made the most of his opportunity to do what he loves and finds himself in a position that most can only dream of.