This school year, BSGE gained a new humanities teacher, Mr. Steven Rabinowitz. In a recent interview, he shared the details of the path he took to becoming a teacher as well as a devoted follower of a secret band.
So what made the Long Beach native, and upcoming girls’ basketball coach, interested in the humanities? As a child, Mr. Rabinowitz’s took long road trips with his grandfather. On these adventures, he would stare at maps and memorize all their features, from rocks and rivers, to cities and states. Somewhere along the way, a passion for history and geography was born. In the 6th grade, Mr. Rabinowitz’s guidance counselor asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and not surprisingly, Mr. Rabinowitz said “history teacher.”
At 24, Mr. Rabinowitz went to grad school in “the most awesome place on Earth,” or as others know it, Santa Cruz, California. In 2011, Mr. Rabinowitz completed graduate school, and began covering for teachers on maternity leave. This is his fourth full year teaching in a classroom. It seems as if Mr. Rabinowitz is a jack of all grades; for the last couple of years, he’s taught everything from seventh to twelfth grade, plus independent study. He loves contemplating alternate histories, but tries to avoid this when thinking academically. Imagine a world in which there wasn’t a Revolutionary War–we’d be having tea everyday (not that I’d mind, of course).
So what attracted Mr. Rabinowitz to BSGE? Was it the crowded hallways or the cafegymatorium? Surprisingly, neither. Mr. Rabinowitz was enchanted by the fact that BSGE is passionate about its students.
He liked that the teachers here want students to strive and develop on their own. The cozy atmosphere appealed to him as well. At BSGE, almost everyone knows each other, which as many students can understand, is both a blessing and a curse. Mr. Rabinowitz last taught at Brooklyn Latin for a year. It was a good school, but, “it wasn’t me,” he said. At Brooklyn Latin, the children wore uniforms which he felt minimized expression. Most students there didn’t approach the teachers for help either. Here, Mr. Rabinowitz thinks the students are “great.” He feels that BSGE has abundant character. Mr. Rabinowitz is amazed by how expressive the students are, and is fascinated especially by the way we interact with one another.
Even though some people may associate the humanities with old, creaky men writing documents, Mr. Rabinowitz’s music taste is not Beethoven. He in fact has 3 ½ terabytes of classic rock, folk rock, jam bands, 80s new wave, and nu disco on his computer. The Grateful Dead, Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Tool, Zero7, and Paul Simon are some of his favorites. Then there’s THE band. The band he has gone to see 216 times. The Band Who Must Not be Named. Or rather the one he absolutely refused to name because he was afraid he’d bump into one of his students at a concert.
For years in college, Mr. Rabinowitz spent most of his money going to see bands “he couldn’t afford.” Still, he said the concerts were “worth every penny.” “Yolo,” he said. Then his history-teacher personality kicked in: “‘Unless you’re a Buddhist or Hindu. Or a cat.”
If there’s something that Mr. Rabinowitz loves as much as music, it’s teaching. He loves that “something subtle could impact someone so much.” Thinking back to high school, only his humanities teacher and his French teacher stood out. He said he never forgot how they helped him grow as a person. Now he wants to pay their wisdom forward. He wants to push his students at BSGE to progress just as he did. Nevertheless, he doesn’t forget that “as much as you guys are learning, I am too.” Often, we don’t realize that we’re not the only ones going through a learning process. While we are growing, Mr. Rabinowitz said, we’re also helping him grow.