David Pruess is the current Social Studies teacher in the Middle School International Track, a new program for students who do not speak any French when they enter EB in 6th grade. This article is part of a series introducing new Middle School teachers. In February: an interview with Science teacher George Speckman.
David is somewhat of a rare species in the community: a native Berkeleyan! Born in Berkeley to a German father and an American mother (who had spent some time in Austria), his first words were German: “I first learned German, and then English,'' Pruess tells me.
At the time, there were not that many options for bilingual education, so David’s parents looked at Ecole Bilingue, and signed him up from Pre-K to 8th grade. David has a great interest in languages and easily became trilingual. In fact, you barely notice his slight accent when he speaks French, and you can tell he enjoys switching from one language to the next! As an adult he has continued learning Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and ASL.
David had fond memories of his years at Ecole Bilingue. He particularly remembers his middle school teachers Odile Marie (French), Christopher Nikoloff (English), and Emmanuel Coupe (Science and Math). “I believe that incredible teachers inspired me to go into teaching myself,'' says Pruess.
It was right around that time that he started to take a liking to playing chess. This hobby turned into a passion when the academically-inclined student attended high school at College Preparatory School. “I was playing chess in my head, on the internet, with other classmates...” so much so that he started playing in tournaments around the world.
By the time he was in college at Cal, David was teaching chess on the side to train the next generation of talented players. He also went on to become Director of Content for the site Chess.com, where you can still see his chess tutorial videos. “I really enjoyed giving back to the chess community and discovering future talents,'' said Pruess—especially since one of his students ended up winning at the national level!
Although chess is not as present as it once was in David’s life, he still finds the time to manage the PRO Chess League’s California team. Otherwise, his main preoccupations are: raising a family and teaching.
David is the proud father of two, including his daughter Lili, a current EB student. He has taken his father role to heart, taking a year off of work after each of his children were born, to raise them alongside his partner. During this transitional period, David worked as a substitute teacher at Ecole Bilingue, working in different classrooms. “I really liked the novelty of tackling a new program with new students every day!” he says. Ultimately, David was offered the opportunity to teach Middle School English, and was then hired to play an instrumental role in the newly created International Track.
He now wears many hats, teaching Social Studies, English, French, and being an Advisor to his small group of International Track students. The variety does not scare him, in fact, he seeks it out! During his latest year on paternity leave, David realized how much he missed talking to his teaching colleagues about pedagogy and debating the best teaching approaches. He truly loves to learn and teach others to learn!
Read an interview with Spanish Teacher at Ecole Bilingue Middle School Irena Ademaj.