SKS family welcomes Mr. Kevin Benz

Oct 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Faculty News

By Yuhao “Howard” Li, Staff Reporter

Mr. Kevin Benz works with one of his fifth form students, Yuhao “Howard” Li. Photo by Sun Yi.

Although this year is Mr. Kevin Benz’s first year teaching at South Kent, he has already won the favor of many students.

“I feel that Mr. Benz is going to be my favorite teacher this year,” said Hunter Kochiss, a fifth former students from connecticut. “He is a young teacher. I feel that I can relate to him a lot.”

Being a student in Mr. Benz’s US History class, Hunter is amazed by Mr. Benz’s teaching style.

His teaching technique is unique. Instead of following the books, Mr. Benz brings up some interesting topics to get students’ attention and encourage students to share their opinions,” said Hunter. “By doing so, Mr. Benz is able to know each student’s understanding of the materials and make the class time well-spent for most of the people.”

“I used to think that history is boring and hard. However, Mr. Benz changed my perspective of this subject. He jokes a lot in the class, which makes the contents interesting and comprehensible for the students,” Hunter said with a huge smile on his face.

Besides, Mr. Benz not only has a special approach to teaching, but also has a great interest and passion on the subject he teaches, US history.

“US history is one of the most interesting subjects to me. The reason is the concepts or the information that I can learn from this subject are closely related to my country,” said Mr. Benz. “I hope that everyone has an interest in knowing the historical background of their native country. Learning this background can help a person achieve a better understanding of his or her country’s current governing systems.”

This year is Mr. Benz’s fourth year teaching US History. In the past three years, Mr. Benz taught US History and World History at Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School and Ross School; both of which are boarding schools. One of the most memorable experience that he had in these three years was seeing people from different cultural backgrounds adding their own personal insight during discussions.

“Students who come from different countries and lived under different circumstances can share completely different perspectives. When I was teaching the history of Confucius, I thought that he was still considered a relevant philosopher in China.  My students corrected me that even though the general ideas behind Confucius are applicable, most people in China consider Confucius to be part of the past not present.  For me, this was very humbling.  I learn everyday from my students,” said Mr. Benz.

Mr. Benz mentioned that he has taught students from the Middle East and parts of Africa, who offer new perspectives on the United States’ foreign policy in the region.  “Seeing different perspective of different countries enriches the class atmosphere and always makes me forget who is the teacher in the class,” said Mr. Benz

However, Mr. Benz changed his tone when he referred to his own high school US History teacher.

“He thought he was good, but he was rude and intimidating. He always mocked students and left them feeling inferior rather than empowered,” said Mr. Benz. “I used to love history, but this experience unfortunately turned me off of the subject.”

Luckily, Mr. Benz recovered his interest in history at college. He did a double major in History and Art History at Hobart and William Smith College. After graduating from college, Mr. Benz started in education. The experience in high school history class left a painful memory to Mr. Benz and convinced him not to teach students in a certain way.

The reason Mr. Benz chose to study Art History as his second major may surprise students. To many people, Art History seems like a whole different genre of history. Mr. Benz learned a lot from this second major. “My advisor in college recommended that I take Art History along with my courses in History. I took the course and was surprised how much of what I was learning history could be portrayed in Art History and vice versa.”

“Students may forget the details of our history but I hope to prepare my students for life in college, as well as when my students enter the workforce,” he said.

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