- Middle School
This week’s Faculty Feature is Louise Benham! Mrs. Benham has been a special education teacher in Maine for more than 30 years, the last 15 of which have been spent at TAMS! She attended high school at Smith Academy in Hatfield, Massachusetts, then studied history at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. From there, Mrs. Benham travelled over the pond to the University of Durham in Durham, England with the intention of teaching at the university level. “I earned an M.A. by thesis ("The Durham Clergy 1494 1540" - riveting title!)...and spent almost three years living in England. I loved every minute of it.”
When she returned to the states with her husband, Peter he got a job at Sweetser Children's Home, and Mrs. Benham started substitute teaching there as well. “I discovered I really liked teaching and working with kids middle school age and lower, because I really felt needed...I started taking courses toward my teacher's certification at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.” She worked as an Ed Tech and teacher at Sweetser for six years, as a special education teacher in charge of a self-contained behavior program at C.K. Burns School for 18 years. Since TAMS opened in 2006, Mrs. Benham has been the school’s special education resource teacher.
She spends her time directly instructing students in the special education setting, teaching ELA, math, supported study halls, and extra reading sessions. Like her fellow TAMS teachers, she also has recess duty. She lives in Saco with her husband, Peter (who some may know as TA’s JV soccer coach), and has two adult children (Colin and Tegan), both TA grads. When she’s not supporting students at TAMS, Mrs. Benham enjoys sewing, cooking, reading, and working on her family tree. She also goes for many walks with her two dogs, Ken and Trudy, “and by that I mean that they take me.”
What is the best thing about teaching at TA? What is the most challenging?
“The best thing about teaching at TAMS (or anywhere for that matter) are the kids and the relationships you can build with them. Also, the faculty (both here and in the other districts) are great to know and work with. The most challenging thing is all the paperwork! It's not hard, but it takes time away from planning lessons and time with the kids.”
What is a favorite TA memory?
“Well, a few weeks ago a student I was teaching online remarked how quickly the math class had gone by and how she liked having a teacher ‘with spirit!’ Who knew? And oh, yes, those cookies that used to get served before staff meetings!”
What do you hope for your students?
“My hope for my students is that they find their niche. We need folks in all sorts of occupations, not just jobs only accessible through a college degree. They need to be happy with what they do, because they are going to spend a lot of their working lives at it.”
What do you hope for the future of TA?
“I would hope that vocational education can be made available to kids in 9th grade, or sooner than it is now."
What do you spend your time doing when you're not at TA?
"When I'm at home, on my own time, I am sewing, or reading, or working on my family tree. I've been sewing since I was 14 (learned through 4-H clubs) and love making clothing for my son and my grandchildren. The more complicated, the better, and I have quite a stash of fabric. I have always loved reading, especially history. I am finishing up The Bully Pulpit, recently finished No Ordinary Time (presidency of FDR), and have stacks of books waiting to be read. I've got Ancestry and My Heritage memberships and did the DNA test. In particular I "met" a cousin in West Virginia who was able to give me lots more information on our shared ancestry in Poland. More funny and unbelievable was when I followed my tree back as far as I could go on FamilySearch.Org one day when I was bored. It got really interesting when the surname of one of the links was Plantagenet."
Faculty Fun Facts!
Favorite food: pierogi, kielbasa, golumpki (Polish soul food)
Favorite book: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (It makes me laugh every time I read it, and I've read it many times!)
Favorite movie(s): Chariots of Fire, Steel Magnolias, Moonstruck, Band of Brothers (Sorry, can't name just one!)
Favorite song: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash—I heard it for the first time while riding in the back of my friend's Gremlin (yes, I am dating myself ) as we went to Smith College for a tour of the campus at the beginning of my senior year in high school.
Thank you, Mrs. Benham, for dedicating your career to seeing and celebrating each student you encounter. Your attentiveness, kindness, and commitment to meeting your students right where they are is so appreciated. You make a real difference in the lives of so many students and families and TAMS is lucky to have you!
Pictured below: Mrs. Benham chats with a group of TAMSters during recess!