Ten years ago, the school was a different place. There were fewer students, fewer buildings and fewer resources to go around. Various classrooms were under construction. Teachers had no online grades, and Internet access wasn’t widespread throughout the school.
English teacher Margaret Bennett began her teaching career at the school 20 years ago after graduating from Stanford University.
She was a student teacher before becoming a teacher. During her ten years at the school, she served as a mentor to the current English Department head, Keren Robertson.
“It’s like getting to know somebody again who I haven’t seen in a long time, which is really nice, and wonderful to see the ways she’s changed and all of the experiences she’s had that make her a better teacher in the classroom, too,” Robertson said.
While she was a teacher at the school, she wrote lessons for the study of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, which would eventually transform into the AP Language and Composition class’ Tapestry Project. She also helped write the Journey of Discovery, which was a precursor to the senior project. While these projects are no longer assigned to students, they have served as an important foundation for current projects.
After the birth of her children, Bennett decided to leave the school in order to raise them.
Although Bennett was away from school, she still continued to teach in other areas of her life. She taught art at her children’s school because there wasn’t an existing class, and theological classes at her church. In addition to taking care of her children during her time away from the school, Bennett also started her own business that helps adults work with their excess pictures and multimedia elements to create scrapbooks and photo albums.
However she still felt the need to return to teaching students. When former English teacher Galen Rosenberg accepted his position as Assistant Principal, he left a vacancy in the English Department.
“When this opportunity came forward, I decided to apply and was excited to interview and get the job,” Bennett said.
Once she returned to the school, Bennett noticed that many things had changed since her departure.
“Back in the day … we had one computer in each classroom, and if it was hooked to the Internet, we were happy,” Bennett said. “And to be honest, [students] just seem bigger than I remember and smarter than I remember and more fun than I remember.”
Especially since the school is located in the Silicon Valley, technology advances have been integrated into the school along with the increased student body. These changes, such as school-wide internet, are often taken for granted by most students. Bennett believes that the new technology shows how the school is constantly improving.
“It’s amazing,” Bennett said. “We have document readers and Internet access, and you can really just bring in the real world so much more than before.”
Bennett said that her return to the school offered her a unique perspective.
“There are a lot of familiar faces in the English department and in the school, and there are also a lot of new faces,” Bennett said. “It’s just super exciting to be with all of these newer teachers who have different experiences and different outlooks.”
Even in the early hours of the morning, Bennett’s enthusiasm for the school is tangible.
“Why I came back to [the school], there’s always been this feeling of collaboration and working together and teamwork,” Bennett said. “We’ve always had that in the English department, and now it seems schoolwide as well.”