Founder and Principal of the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (BASE)
Ben began his career in education at Columbia’s Teachers College, where he studied secondary English education. He began teaching in 2003 at Satellite Academy High School, a transfer school serving over-aged, under-credited students in the south Bronx. The school is a member of the New York State Performance Standards Consortium, and students demonstrate their mastery through performance tasks and portfolios. At various times Ben served as department chair, grade team leader and UFT chapter leader; he led professional development on educational technology he piloted as well as curriculum planning frameworks like Understanding by Design.
In 2010, Ben left the classroom to join one of the NYC Department of Education’s new Children First Networks, district-level structures that provide instructional, leadership and operational support to a network of 30 schools, serving students from preK-12 grade. There he served first as Achievement Coach, and then as Director of Instruction. In the director role, Ben developed a model of professional development based on teacher action-research, working closely with principals, assistant principals and teachers to explore the role of the then-new Common Core Learning Standards in math and literacy classrooms.
In 2012 Ben and a colleague developed a proposal to found a new high school focusing on the intersection of art, technology, and ethics. During the development process, Ben was introduced to Fred Wilson, the New York City-based venture capitalist. Fred had recently established the non-profit NYC Foundation for Computer Science Education and supported opening a school for software engineering in Manhattan. He was interested in opening a second school in the Bronx, and Bronx Academy for Software Engineering was born.
As founding principal of BASE, Ben continues to work to build a school that adheres closely to its original mission: to give students from the Bronx the tools they need to understand, participate in and – where appropriate – work to change their communities. BASE students study computer science as a fifth core subject, learning creative problem-solving across the disciplines through Design Thinking. As seniors BASE students go out into their own communities and develop technical and innovative interventions to address political and social needs they identify.
Ben works closely with the school’s Advisory Board, which proudly includes technologists, community leaders, and professors of computer science, including Majora Carter, Reshma Saujani, and Lehman’s own Ronald Bergmann.