Prin­ci­pal Wants To Be A Role Model

McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Dick­er­son McDon­ald County Press rdick­er­son@nwadg.com

Kevin Ben­ish, the new prin­ci­pal at Pineville Ele­men­tary School, says he wants to be a role model for stu­dents.

Part of his strat­egy for do­ing this in­cludes wear­ing a suit and tie to school ev­ery day. This is his 11th year as an ed­u­ca­tor, and he has al­ways had stu­dents, both boys and girls, come to school dressed like him. He has plenty of pho­tos of him pos­ing with dressed up stu­dents.

Ben­ish orig­i­nally went to school to be­come a phar­ma­cist, but “it seemed like a very bor­ing job,” he said.

“I’ve al­ways en­joyed work­ing with stu­dents and chil­dren, so it just made sense to be­come an ed­u­ca­tor. There’s not been a dull mo­ment since,” he said.

He at­tended Pu­laski Tech­ni­cal Col­lege in North Lit­tle Rock, Ark., where he had an ex­cel­lent his­tory teacher who in­spired him to be­come a teacher, he said.

“His­tory was al­ways a bor­ing sub­ject grow­ing up un­til I got into Mr. Martin’s class,” he said.

Ben­ish earned his as­so­ciate’s de­gree at Pu­laski Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, then moved to North­west Arkansas and at­tended the

Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas, where he earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ele­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion. Then he earned a mas­ter of arts de­gree in teach­ing and, in 2008, got a job teach­ing first grade at An­der­son Ele­men­tary School. The next three years he taught sec­ond grade at An­der­son, and then for four years, he taught kinder­garten. The first year he taught kinder­garten, in the 2012-13 school year, he was a teacher of the year.

In his third year of teach­ing kinder­garten, his ad­min­is­tra­tor asked him if he had ever thought about get­ting a de­gree in ad­min­is­tra­tion. In 2016 he com­pleted an ed­u­ca­tional spe­cial­ist de­gree in ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship at Arkansas State Uni­ver­sity at Jones­boro. He just com­pleted his di­rec­tor of stu­dent ser­vices cer­tifi­cate from Arkansas State Uni­ver­sity at Jones­boro.

He plans on go­ing back to school for a doc­tor­ate at some point, but right now he wants to fo­cus on his two young daugh­ters, Abi­gail, 3, and Claire, 18 months. He and his wife, Lindsy, and two girls live in Bentonville. Lindsy works for Tyson cor­po­rate head­quar­ters in Spring­dale.

Ben­ish grew up in south­west Lit­tle Rock, Ark., on an 80-acre farm.

“We had chick­ens, goats, pigs, horses, don­keys. We planted a five-acre gar­den that we worked in all sum­mer,” he said.

He said he can re­late to stu­dents in McDon­ald County be­cause of his sim­i­lar up­bring­ing.

“I grew up hunt­ing and fish­ing, and that was the main meal. I grew up with the same back­ground and past as a lot of the stu­dents here in McDon­ald County. I still en­joy hunt­ing and fish­ing to­day.”

Asked why he wanted to be­come an ad­min­is­tra­tor, he said, “I wanted to be­come an ad­min­is­tra­tor to do the great­est good. I would be able to in­flu­ence all the teach­ers in the build­ing and have an im­pact on the stu­dents as well.”

He also noted he en­joys build­ing re­la­tion­ships with stu­dents and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence ev­ery sin­gle day.

As for how things are go­ing so far, he said this year has been “the smoothest start I’ve had in 11 years of ed­u­ca­tion. I have an ex­cel­lent staff of teach­ers that do a won­der­ful job each and ev­ery day work­ing with our stu­dents.”

RACHEL DICK­ER­SON/MCDON­ALD COUNTY PRESS

Kevin Ben­ish is the new prin­ci­pal at Pineville Ele­men­tary School. He hopes to be a role model for stu­dents.

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