by Dave Warner

Students returned to school on  Thursday at Benton Hall Academy. According to Principal Long, “It’s like a new beginning. In any other job, you don’t get this. It’s exciting for all of us and we’re all ready to be back, even though we might not admit to that, we’re all ready to be back.”

He went on to say that it was like springtime in the fall. This year, the students will see an expanded Engineering by Design (EBD) focus. “It’s getting even bigger and better,” he said. It’s the second year, and he thinks that Tracy Young has been a big reason for the expansion. “She’s fantastic at what she does.”

“The EBD and STEAM – that’s what’s driving our capital project, so it’s exciting. The kids get fired up about working in groups and working on these kinds of projects,” he said. “If you get a kid fired up about school, that’s really crucial.”

The school also has new staff members, which Long says is exciting as well. “It’s exciting for them to have the opportunity to teach these kids.”

Long now has two of his former students teaching at the school. “Personally, it’s wonderful for me and they’re great at what they do,” he said.

He relayed a story about how one of the new teachers said ‘I don’t know if they are going to learn anything from me’. “I saw her today and said, did you say that? And she said yes and I said ‘they are going to learn a lot from you, don’t worry, you’re going to be great’.”

Long went on to say that they have a beautiful facility, fantastic kids, and fantastic staff. It’s his tenth year as principal and twelfth overall at the school. When asked if he had every kids name memorized he said, “Pretty much, but by the end Friday, I’ve forgotten my own.”

“Kids have to know that you care about them and they have to see smiling faces, even if you’re tired, or sore, or old. Even if you’re having a bad day. Whether you’re a teacher, or a principal, a custodian or bus driver, you can’t let the kids ever know you’re having a bad day. I take that very seriously,” he said.