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​Brian Bersh
Teacher of the Year
​Brian Bersh (BM 2009, MM 2011) was recently named the 2016 Teacher of the Year at Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA. Bersh was nominated by current and former students and parents, school administrators and fellow teachers, and their comments about him illustrate the vital role of music education in schools:

"In addition to teaching the students to be better musicians, Mr. Bersh inspires them to always do their best and be their best selves," a parent.

"His interactions with his students demonstrate his ability to understand and teach the whole child ... he aims to teach critical thinking, problem, solving, creativity, academics, technical skills, teamwork and more," an administrator.

For Bersh himself, the award a huge honor that validates his hard work and helps frame his approach to teaching. "Receiving this distinction has made me think about what the learning experience is like for students in my classroom," he says. "Are they engaged, are they challenged, do they look forward to coming back? Am I inspiring students to pursue learning outside of my classroom? Students don't have to take my music class. It is a choice they make. I appreciate that choice and strive to reward them with a fantastic learning experience."

Students aren't the only ones who benefit. Bersh says that watching students grow and develop through their four years of high school is immensely rewarding, and knowing that as a teacher he contributed to that growth - social, academic and emotional - is incredibly fulfilling.

Bersh has taught at Yorktown for five years, and during that time the school's music program has had some amazing opportunities, including performing a commissioned piece with the U.S. Army Brass Quintet that commemorated the 10-year anniversary Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. His ensembles have also performed throughout the country and at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, Blues Alley's Big Band Jam and the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival.

Outside of the classroom, Bersh has presented music education research at international venues, and he credits UD's undergraduate research program with establishing his skill set as a teacher and learner. While at UD, Bersh had opportunities to present research, attend conferences, perform and study education around the world through trips to Sweden, Israel, Germany, China, Italy and England.

Even with all of these experiences, Bersh still thinks the most important resource at UD is the people. Asked to offer a piece of advice to today's student body, he says, "Take advantage of the resources ... while you have access to them! I'm not just talking about the physical resources - more importantly, I am talking about the people. Immediate, personal access to so many outstanding professionals is something that you should not be taking for granted."