Bringing Literature to Life: Professor Howard B. Weiner
Students often say Professor Weiner brings English to life. Here’s why.
“I got out of the army one day and into the classroom the next…and I never left,” begins Howard Weiner, assistant professor of English at the New York School of Applied and Career Studies (NYSCAS). And he’s serious: Dr. Weiner—who “still get[s] a kick out of being in the classroom”—has been with Touro since 1996.
Part of his educational philosophy, he says, is performance. “I believe that if you want to reach students, you have to perform for them. You can’t be inhibited; you can’t be afraid.”
Even outside of teaching, Dr. Weiner knows something of performance: As a professional jazz player for over fifty years, he’s performed at quite a number of local clubs throughout his life.
“You just have to let it all come out of you, for the students. Put on a show for them. My joy is to come into the classroom and talk about books, poetry, literature, history. To me that’s what it’s all about—making it exciting, interesting.”
And his students see this.
“He brings literature to life,” says student Chana Levitsky. “Every day is an adventure in his classroom.”
Now, at Touro, Dr. Weiner—who received his PhD in Medieval Literature from St. John’s University—teaches courses in Shakespeare, Poetry, American Literature, Medieval Literature, and Fiction. He’s also the faculty advisor for FOCUS, NYSCAS students’ journal of creative writing.
“I think that teaching is a vocation,” he muses. “I think that you’re called to teaching, much the same way that you’re called to the priesthood or you’re called to be a rabbi. Teaching should never be something you do on the way to something else. You have to have a very special feeling for it. And I’ve been fortunate enough, for forty five years, to have felt that every day.”
This is Professor Howard Weiner’s story.