Elementary Support Teacher
Student Member, CEC Board of Directors
CEC Member Since 2011
There’s no such thing as a typical teacher education student, and Ben White is a perfect example of how unique each individual’s story really is. Growing up in Detroit, Ben resisted the notion of following in his mother’s footsteps as a special education teacher, wanting to carve his own path and write his own story. But his mother’s influence had a profound impact on who Ben would become. As a pioneer in the special education profession, his mother’s passion for her work was contagious.
Eventually, Ben’s desire to share that acceptance led him to take a position as a paraeducator in a classroom for students with autism. It immediately sucked him in. One student in particular had a profound impact on Ben. “He didn’t communicate verbally, and he scared a lot of the teachers. I could tell he was misunderstood.” But Ben was able to connect with him. “It was very rewarding to be able to help him communicate. Everyone came around to see the potential in him.” Ben realized that his ability to connect with this student could have been the turning point of the student’s success or failure. Seeing the positive impact he could make, Ben knew this was his calling.
Why I Do What I Do
“The future! I was recently asked why I chose the field of education as a career path. The answer is, simply, to impact the future. Education is the most important strategy to helping people improve their lives and what they contribute to society. We need to educate our youth if we’re going to improve as a nation. I chose education so I can actively participate in helping the people who will build a better tomorrow.”
Ben’s passion for educating exceptional students is multifaceted. He knows the critical importance of improving teacher preparation programs and improving the teaching profession. Because of this, he works closely with local and state officials to get teacher candidates in the classroom sooner, and strives to create teacher retention programs to keep teachers in the classroom.
His mother. “She really pushed me as a student and knew how to meet me at my level. She is really passionate about accepting everyone.”
His devotion to his students and excitement for teaching and learning are what really drives Ben. From his mother, he learned that opportunities for learning are everywhere and that students learn not only reading and math in the classroom, but also life lessons that they carry throughout their lives. “Kids love to learn and I love to feed them that knowledge because they’re so thirsty for it.”
“Being a member of CEC has opened so many professional doors for me and has really become a professional home for me. As the student member of the CEC Board of Directors, I’ve met people who will directly affect the direction of my career. The best benefit of being a member of CEC is access to and opportunities to connect with 29,000 other members.”
How CEC Helps Ben Do More
“CEC has been an amazing partner in my development as an educator. I have shared ideas with thousands of people and learned from their experiences. The opportunities to network and collaborate with students, teachers and other practitioners with a common goal: Education!”
Over the years, Ben has leaned on CEC for professional and moral support. From his time as student member and as in his current role as a CEC board member, Ben has established a fantastic professional network that includes 29,000 other CEC members he can call upon at any time in the CECommunity for advice, ideas and collaboration opportunities.
P.S. It’s not every day that the U.S. Secretary of Education calls your cell phone to thank you for being a special educator, but in 2012, that’s exactly what happened to Ben.
Responding to Problem Behaviors in Schools
“Yes, I like textbooks! But this isn’t your typical textbook. It’s a great book about connecting general education and special education.”
If I could invite any one person to dinner, I would invite:
“He’s an advocate for education at different levels. I’d love to learn more about his education views.”