Case wins Teacher of the Year

Helena Zhou, Staff Writer

A swarm of students at The Oak, pep tunes performed by Jazz 1, an atmosphere of anticipation intrigued by the promise of an unrevealed, “important announcement”—all culminated with Northwood Instrumental Music Director Ben Case being awarded IUSD’s Teachers of the Year award on Feb. 16.
Of over 1,000 teachers in IUSD, Case was selected as the single high school instructor for this distinction and will now be considered for the county-level competition. Prior to this, he was nominated by Brad Van Patten, IUSD Director of Visual and Performing Arts, in January and reviewed by various committees including the Irvine Teachers Association.
“For the last three years during COVID-19, where most programs fall apart, Mr. Case has held steady enrollment in his music programs,” Van Patten said. “He’s one of the busiest teachers I know and has worked hard to put together remarkable events like the recent outdoor band concert.”
Case’s approach to his success is to be the teacher that he would want for his own kids.
“I also wouldn’t be able to do this without my family’s support,” Case said. “Their attendance at the ceremony meant everything to me because I felt like I was sharing the award with them.”
An example of this support comes from Case’s six-year-old son, who encourages Case to win awards more often so that they don’t have to attend school.
Yet Case is far from being new to outstanding achievements; he’s a 2015 Grammy Teacher of the Year semifinalist, an instructor of one of the largest high school instrumental programs in the state (with 787 students in the band and orchestra program) and the organizer of Band Spectacular—a concert joining all IUSD high school marching bands as well as middle school students.
Beyond holding concerts and events, Case’s main goal this year is building human connections through making and sharing music following the online experience during the pandemic.
“Mr. Case and the music community at Northwood push me to improve individually while also fostering close-knit collaboration,” senior and principal clarinetist in Wind Symphony Andrew Chung said. “They’ve really made music a large part of my high school experience.”