Stonington-Mystic Patch has begun a new feature to help us and you get to your neighbors and the friendly faces around town. This week, meet Stephen Bennhoff, a new resident and the Head of . Bennhoff began at Pine Point this past July. Learn why he choose to move to Stonington from Salt Lake City, Utah, what he loves about the middle school years and his plans for finally putting down some roots.
Name: Stephen Bennhoff
Occupation: Head of Pine Point School
How long have you been in Stonington? Since July. July 1, 2011 was my first official day at Pine Point.
Why Stonington? My family was looking to re-locate. I have a brother who lives in the Manhattan/Fairfield County area. I have a son and wanted my boy to be closer to his cousins.
What’s your professional background? My first teaching experience was at Northwestern teaching sailing. Since then I’ve taught in small schools and large schools, including a 4,000-student body. I taught a number of subjects. I taught in Oklahoma City, in Vermont, in the Hamptons for a couple of years. I wrote and directed plays, coached various sports. Most recently I was the head at the middle school of Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City for eight-years. This is my first headship of an entire school.
What made you decide to become an educator?
When I was in sixth grade in Miss Cabbage’s class, (if you can believe that name) I said I’d be a teacher someday. My father is a retired surgeon but he was always a very good teacher just explained things well and I found myself with a number of wonderful teachers.
Why Pine Point? There was three things I was looking for; the pre-school to middle school years, a school with track record of health where alumni spoke of the school having changed their lives for the better and stability. The former head was here for 12 years I wanted the stability.
You’ve taught many different grades, but it sounds like you like the middle school years the best? Why is that? Most people hate that time. It’s a stage of life very few of us want to go back and re-live. It’s a stage of life that is challenging. I enjoy working with a team to turn that stage of life into a time of leadership and self-discovery.
You’ve moved around a lot in your career are you planning on staying here? Very much. I very much see myself staying here. When I was looking at schools it was important that it had to be in place where I wanted to raise my son.
What’s your fondest Stonington memory? Driving home with my son. We’ll look out at the water and say ‘can you believe this is our home.’
What are some of your favorite Stonington activities? Sailing, hiking, it’s just an incredible place.
Any other thoughts you'd like to share: At open houses I always ask the parents to raise their hands if they would like to go back to middle school. One or two will raise their hands and I’ll say, ‘you were the popular kids,’ and they say 'yes, yes I was.' I want students to want to enjoy middle school.