Dr. Benz Announces Her Retirement
When Dr. Joan Benz first walked into Winston Churchill High School, it was the fall of 1997. Twenty-one years later, she has decided to start a new chapter in her life and is retiring at the end of this school year.
“Being Churchill’s Principal for the past twenty-one years has been the highlight of my career. My Churchill students, I am committed to you and passionate about your success. Parents, I greatly appreciate the unending support you have given to Churchill and to me personally. Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog!” wrote Dr. Benz in her statement to the Churchill Community.
The Oxford, Massachusetts native and English major’s education and early work history saw her first teaching in Massachusetts then took her to Rhode Island, Michigan, Virginia and Hawaii before moving to the DC area in 1974. She has worked at several of the schools in Montgomery County, including Julius West, Mark Twain School, Walter Johnson and at Poolesville Middle Senior Schools and as well as in an Area Office Specialist.
One of the highlights of her career included her work as Principal at RICA (Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents) a community-based treatment and special education facility serving students with severe emotional needs. While there she was inspired by working with therapists to continue her education and became a state licensed counselor for marriage and family services.
Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard over these many years to make the Foundation a successful enterprise… and to fulfill the goals of supplementing what MCPS cannot immediately provide.
Through her leadership, Dr. Benz shepherded Churchill to recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School and several times named best high school in Maryland, according to the US News and World Report.
Regarding the Foundation, Dr. Benz stated “It has been wonderful because I’ve worked closely with parents, teachers and student reps from each grade level. Through the Foundation, we’ve had a wonderful opportunity to communicate at all stakeholder levels. We’ve shared what the school still needs, teachers have been able to apply for coursework that supports their work in the classrooms. We’ve supported student groups with monies, and minimally supported some of our cluster schools.” For the future, she hopes to see the ongoing maintenance of what the Foundation has in place but also to see continued outreach to the middle and elementary schools in the cluster.
Dr. Benz initiated the Winston Churchill Educational Foundation in 2000. During her administration, the Foundation has raised funds and provided Churchill with equipment such as the Promethean Boards and Chromebooks, as well as grants for professional development and more.
For the future, she hopes to see the ongoing maintenance of what the Foundation has in place, but also to see continued outreach to the middle and elementary schools in the cluster. She added, “Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard over these many years to make the Foundation a successful enterprise… and to fulfill the goals of supplementing what MCPS cannot immediately provide.”
Dr. Benz, who loves to travel, will certainly be planning many trips in the next few years, including to Germany and China, where she plans to provide educational consulting. She laughed as she realized, “It will be nice to be able to not have to ask permission to go on leave.”
Contributed by Mary Lankester, Board Member