Weber reflects on teaching career

Matthew Chupack and Maya Fridman

Physical education teacher David Weber during a video conference via Google Meets on May 4. Weber is finishing his last year teaching at Glenbrook North after 26 years. Photo by Maya Fridman

Early in his career, physical education teacher David Weber was surrounded by his students laughing when he fell while trying to demonstrate his tennis skills. Looking back, this was one of the funniest moments of his teaching career.

Weber said in a video conference that he was out on the tennis courts with his class, showing a student how to hit a forehand.

“The kid hit it back to me, and I was running back to get it, and I fell,” said Weber. “I was flat out on the ground, and the whole class was just laughing at me, and I was laughing at myself. Here I am thinking, ‘I can do this, I can be a demonstrator.’ But I learned a lesson there: never demonstrate. Let the students do it.”

Weber always knew he wanted to be a basketball coach, and before teaching at Glenbrook North, he was a college basketball coach, he said. Weber coached at Arizona State University for two years, University of California, Santa Barbara for one year, The University of Texas at San Antonio for one year and Eastern Illinois University for seven years. 

“I coached … college basketball as an assistant coach for 11 years before I came to GBN,” said Weber. “So, during that time when I was a coach in college, I realized that that was kind of a tough life so I thought, ‘Maybe, maybe it would be better to be a teacher and coach along with that.’ So, that’s when I was able to come to GBN.”

On his first day working at GBN, Weber was excited and anxious, as working with high school students was a very different experience than working with college students, he said.

“But I think [working with college students] gave me a lot of knowledge on how to work with athletes, and it helped me in coaching and teaching at the high school level,” Weber said.

His most memorable moments at GBN were his times as a basketball coach, specifically when the basketball team won the state championship in 2005, Weber said.

“That team was as good as any team, maybe, in the history of Illinois basketball,” said Weber. “They just got along together, we had great players, everything clicked and [winning] the state championship will be something I’ll always remember.”

As a coach, his favorite thing was the sporting events and seeing students dressed up in green and gold, supporting their teams, said Weber. His favorite sporting events were the basketball games that would be sold out with students waiting outside.

“[Students] would actually finish their school day and not go home, and just sit in the hallway, and wait literally from 3 o’clock [until] 6 o’clock so they could get the best seat in the gym,” said Weber. “So that was pretty cool.

“To see that gym the way it was years ago was really fun.”

When he left school on Friday, the last day of in-person classes, he had a feeling that would be his last day teaching, Weber said.

“I was pretty sure we weren’t going to go back … when we left on that Friday, and I started watching the news and seeing what was happening,” Weber said. 

Once he retires, he plans on playing golf and going fishing, said Weber. He will miss the friendships and relationships he has developed with faculty throughout his 26 years at GBN.

“I love to stop and talk to Helen for a couple of minutes,” said Weber. “I love Juliet, always smiling, and she’ll kind of lighten up your day if you’re having a bad day. Joe Taylor is one of our maintenance guys, and Joe and I have been friends for a long time, and he always has a joke or two to tell me.”

Weber hopes he taught his students to be friendly and respectful to others around them, he said.

“A lot of people go through life and they are very negative, and I hopefully was able to bring a positive attitude to the school, and the surroundings.

 “I always wanted to bring a little sunshine into [everyone’s] lives,” Weber said.