Ben Tinsley began his teaching career in Philadelphia charter schools, where he learned that his job was more about “trying to help kids navigate life,” than about teaching content.
At Shipley, he says that strong relationships with his students are at the heart of what makes him successful in the classroom. How does he define that success? If he’s teaching French, he says, “I want my students to never shy away from opportunities to use the language and to always put on their resumes that they speak French.” Otherwise, it means “giving kids the confidence that they can be impactful contributors to the world around them, and helping them realize how big that world is.”
Ben appreciates Shipley’s focus on inspiring and equipping students to be compassionate participants in the world, as well as the creative and intellectual freedom teachers are given to develop curriculum, like his Upper School interdisciplinary course “Francophone Cultures through Literature and Film,” which focuses exclusively on Africa and the Caribbean.
Outside of Shipley, Ben devotes lots of time to his family, his love of music, and his strong desire to make a positive impact in the world by identifying deserving individuals and providing resources to them through small fundraisers.
Project E.J. is one of many small-scale efforts he has spearheaded to help others. It began five years ago with a chance encounter in a Sam Ash music store with a student playing the guitar he had on layaway. “When I came home,” recounts Ben, “I went to Facebook to share just how inspiring it was to meet this young man.” Three days later, Ben and his network had raised over $1,200, which were put toward secretly paying off E.J.’s layaway, and to buying him necessary guitar accessories and a few months of guitar lessons. Now, Ben is hoping to benefit another lucky young musician by donating half of the proceeds from the sale of his most recent album (from the time of its release in late August through November) to Project E.J.
Ben attributes his spirit of compassion and action to his mother, but he finds that same spirit very much alive at Shipley. At Shipley, says Ben, “I feel like I'm helping people reach their potential to contribute to the world around them. I see Shipley doing things with intentionality to move the organization forward. This forward progress is going to ripple outward as our students go out into the world.”