Accelerated Certification for Teachers Program
Special Education Teacher at Kenosha Tremper High School
David Weiser, who has both taken and taught education classes at Carthage, was named teacher of the year among all Kenosha Unified high schools for 2011-12.
He co-chairs the special education department at Tremper High School. Among the numerous nomination letters, Mr. Weiser was especially touched by one from a special-needs student.
“Mr. Weiser helped me to get my life back on track after I dropped out of school,” wrote the student, who is now on track to graduate and attend college. “He dealt with me at my absolute worst, when nobody wanted to deal with me.”
Teaching is a second career for Mr. Weiser, who spent 10 years working at Catholic Charities in Chicago. He completed Carthage’s Accelerated Certification for Teachers (ACT) program in 2005.
He said Carthage’s approach benefited him greatly as he made the change.
“We were doing real-world problem-solving,” he said. “We were talking about what it was like to be in the classroom.”
Mr. Weiser later taught urban education classes as an ad hoc instructor for the College.
A lasting network of professional teachers
Studying with the same core group during the entire program, he developed a lasting bond with classmates. Mr. Weiser said he’s still in touch with many of them, and those teaching at the middle school level help him coordinate students’ transition to Tremper.
“We all kind of grew in our teaching together,” he said. “You’ve got a built-in group of peers.”
With a master’s degree in rehabilitation psychology, Mr. Weiser was deemed a natural fit for the special education track. Although he’s saddened to see some students arrive in high school frustrated by the failures of the school system to reach them, he has found the job extremely rewarding.
“It’s that ‘Aha!’ moment of ‘I got it!’ that is important to me,” he said.
Creative, individualized instruction
He credits Prof. Roger Bass, who taught education at Carthage for more than 20 years, with shaping his teaching mindset. Prof. Bass emphasized personalized instruction, among other things.
In their nomination letters, fellow teachers and administrators at Tremper praised Mr. Weiser for his ability to connect to students with disorders on the autistic spectrum and his creative solutions involving other teachers and parents.
“He works tirelessly with these students, instilling a sense of confidence, a willingness to learn, and positive behavior strategies,” Assistant Principal Maria J. Kotz wrote. She added the Antioch, Ill., resident spends much of the summer in Kenosha “to meet with certain students who need educational and socialization support all year. He is a teacher who makes a difference and the reason many of our students with special needs graduate with their class.”
Mr. Weiser said he’s humbled by the honor. Along with other recipients, he was honored during the Annual District Recognition Dinner in March 2012 at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
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“We were doing real-world problem-solving. We were talking about what it was like to be in the classroom.”