To Ben Bravard, teaching is all about the people.
He never really planned to become a teacher. A 1996 graduate of Boone High School, Bravard actually earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Iowa State University and embarked on that career before he gave education a serious thought.
“I did accounting for a year, and then I realized I liked being around people more than just being in an office,” Bravard explains.
After that first year in business, Bravard returned to school, enrolling at Drake University, where he earned a master’s in business and completed his teacher certification.
“I had done some coaching, so I knew I enjoyed working with teenagers and young people, but I hadn’t quite thought about teaching,” he recalls.
The change seems to have fit him well. Bravard now teaches computer applications and technology classes just down the hall from where he first learned keyboarding on an electric typewriter.
By contrast, Bravard’s students today have a world of choices at their fingertips in his technology classes.
“A lot of what I do is to give them parameters, but it’s pretty loose in the fact that they kind of control their learning,” he says. “They might all start out at the same spot, but they might end up at a different place, and still they’re showing that they’re learning throughout the process and with their end project.”
Bravard’s classes include computer applications I and II, as well as digital broadcasting and video production, which he co-teaches with the journalism instructor.
“Everything we do is real-world applicable,” he explains.
And while all of his classes are elective, Bravard estimates that about 60 percent of the student population takes at least one of his classes during their high school years. He is particularly pleased when a former student lets him know how the content of his classes make a difference long after the grades are posted.
“It’s really rewarding when I hear from former students, or get an email from them and they say, ‘I didn’t even realize how much I learned back then, but now I’m so far ahead of other people in college.’ Or, ‘Now I’m using it in my job.’ ”
Such words make the change he made in his own career all the more worthwhile.