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Mr. Faus' Blog

 
April 23, 2021

This week I had the pleasure of attending my first Distinguished Alumni awards ceremony in honor of Greg Norman Jr. ‘04. Norman was honored for his entrepreneurial spirit and the great work he has done through the creation of Shark Wake Parks. Like Alumni Council President Paul Lawler ‘02 said during his opening remarks, Norman has created an opportunity for members of our community who might not otherwise have the ability to enjoy watersports. 

While the ceremony was certainly a testament to Greg’s impressive career, it was also a reflection of the type of community Benjamin is and the quality of citizens it graduates. As a new member of the TBS family, I’ve quickly realized that both our students and graduates move through the world anchored and guided by our 12 Benjamin Values. It has become self-evident that each member of our community strives to embody these noble character traits in everything they pursue. 

Greg expressed his gratitude for the mentors and friends he made during his time as a Buccaneer and for the solid foundation the school provided. I emphatically agree with him that the sky's the limit for a Benjamin graduate.

While graduation is just on the horizon for some of our students, and a decade away for others, I hope all of our students and their families know that they can always return to their Benjamin home. Once a Buccaneer, always a Buccaneer!
 
March 9, 2021

This week, I visited Mr. Oster’s accelerated STEM class where I was offered a first-hand glimpse into the Middle School’s STEM curriculum. Eager students were hard at work in the Maglio Family STEM Center, a truly impressive and unique learning environment which serves as a creative space for our Lower and Middle School students. On this particular day, students were researching, designing, drawing to scale, and constructing bridges as part of an engineering challenge. I was so impressed with how these students worked together as a team to construct their bridges without much teacher-led instruction beyond material and length requirements. 

Mr. Oster brought the true essence of STEM exploration to life as he quietly supervised the small groups but actively refrained from giving advice on how to travel from point A (raw materials) to point B (a functional bridge).

One excited student raised his hand and offered to explain how the class would determine who won the challenge. 

This first-hand experience was just a tiny glimpse into the STEM curriculum at Benjamin, which begins with our youngest learners in the WOW program and continues through high school graduation. Upon graduation, students have engineered bridges, coded robots, and created GMOs. They have had the opportunity to join the Benjineers engineering team and pursue the Benjamin Engineering Certificate Program. It’s no wonder many of our students wind up continuing their studies in these fields at the collegiate level. Many have reported back to former TBS mentors that they felt well-equipped and confident walking into their first college courses. 

Not only am I impressed by the breadth and depth of the STEM program at Benjamin, I am equally moved by the genuine excitement I see in the eyes of our learners of all ages. Seeing bright young students engaged and excited about hands-on problem solving was the highlight of my week. 
 
February 12, 2021

Each school has a unique culture, and while it is often hard to distill this ethos into a single moment or event, the Lower School Olympics offers the perfect glimpse at the Benjamin experience. 

For over 30 years, each first through fifth grade classroom has adopted a country to represent at our Olympic games. Students spend the year learning the history, geography, culture, and customs of their assigned country. Classrooms are filled with activity all year long as teachers integrate the study of their country into all aspects of the curriculum. In Ms. Canese’s first grade class representing Thailand, students enjoyed many hands-on experiences - from learning Muay Thai martial arts to building and flying traditional Thai kites. In Ms. Kaufman’s class, students took a virtual visit to the Blarney Stone as they learned more about Ireland. 

The beloved tradition of the Olympics provides a multifaceted educational experience for our lower school students. Not only does it serve as a multicultural study that includes the exploration of foreign cultures and customs, it also provides our students a day of exhilarating competition, physical education, and above all else a chance to display good sportsmanship.

There are so many hallmarks of a Benjamin education woven into this annual event. 

I am proud of my colleagues, including Head of Lower School Dr. Kristen Sheehan and physical education teachers Coach Bailey and Cheatham who deftly managed to continue this tradition while adhering to COVID-19 protocols. 

It was such a joy to see the excitement on our students’ faces as they were able to participate in this uniquely Benjamin right of passage despite the challenges of this year. 
 
January 20, 2021

Last week, our upper school students enjoyed a special assembly to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. One of my favorite elements of the program was listening to students Kaleb and Emma’s rendition of “Hero,” and hearing from fellow classmates how pleasantly surprised they were to see Kaleb taking on a singing role. I don’t think anyone listening to the duet would realize that “singer” was not a role he had previously embodied. 

I think this willingness to try new things without the fear of judgement or failure is a testament to what type of community we are here at Benjamin and what sets us apart. It certainly takes a tremendous amount of courage to try something new in front of your entire high school peer group, and I am proud that TBS is a community where academic and artistic risk taking is encouraged in a supportive environment. 

Students broke out in small groups following the virtual assembly to discuss diversity, equity, and how we can continue to make Benjamin an inclusive community for all students.  

I was honored to be invited to listen to two of the student groups and encouraged by the open dialogue, honesty, and thoughtfulness of our young people at the upper school. The experience was a great example of our DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging) initiative at work, and I am grateful to be part of a school community that has made this initiative a priority.
 
January 5, 2021

This week, our faculty engaged in a professional development day that included a thoughtful examination of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in The Benjamin School community. For those who follow educational movements, you are probably familiar with the work that schools across the country are doing to provide opportunities and create meaningful change for historically underrepresented groups. 

When we consider DEI at The Benjamin School, we also include a B for belonging. We know that our efforts to diversify our school community will be a success only if every person on our campus feels like they belong here. 

I was struck by the bravery of four of our TBS students who spoke virtually to our faculty and staff about their experience navigating the world as students and individuals in underrepresented groups. A common thread shared among them was the fear of their unique identities and backgrounds causing people to view them as outsiders. 

Their candid testimonials set the stage for an implicit bias discussion among faculty members. The breakout sessions opened the door for honest dialogue and the opportunity for faculty to identify areas in which they may harbor an implicit bias. I am incredibly proud of our teachers for embracing this initiative on a personal and professional level and for joining the School in our mission to create a safe and nurturing environment for a diverse student body. We want every Benjamin student to feel that they matter, that they have a voice, and that they belong.

David C. Faus
Head of School
 
December 16, 2020

Dear Members of The Benjamin School Community,

While 2020 was a year rife with uncertainty and tragedy, I will also remember it in a more positive light as the year I witnessed this community exemplify what’s best about The Benjamin School. Watching our faculty, staff, and TBS families live out our 12 Benjamin Values in their daily lives, both in school and out, has been a heartening reminder of why I chose to join the Benjamin family. 

School life has a very distinct rhythm, and the approach of winter break brings energy and excitement to our campuses. From festive celebrations to holiday performances, many of the same traditions that have happened at our school for sixty years continued in 2020 in modified ways with our health and safety protocols in mind.
 
When faced with empty theatres, the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten teams wasted no time developing creative ways to deliver virtual holiday shows. Both teachers and students displayed perseverance in the face of the obstacles of 2020. It is no different in the Middle and Upper School as students and teachers continue to find new ways to share and connect. 
 
Our youngest Bucs (and their parents) have shown tremendous courage as they walk to class each morning, guided by their lower school teachers; an early morning pilgrimage that in previous years was enjoyed hand-in-hand with their parents.
 
I’ve also witnessed the respect and responsibility displayed by our community. Through broad cooperation, support, and commitment to responsible citizenship, we have been able to keep our doors open to on-campus learning this semester. This respect transcends simple adherence to protocols and safety measures and is evident in how each member of the Benjamin community treats one another. 
 
As the countdown to Winter Break has entered single-digits, I am also struck by the kindness and gratitude our community has shown through our all-school service endeavors. From food drives to toy drives, it’s heartwarming to see how the Benjamin Community consistently and without the need for recognition steps up to the plate and meets the needs of our community, especially in a year when need is greater than ever. 
 
I am grateful for all of you - and all your goodness -  this holiday season
 
David C. Faus
Head of School
 
November 20, 2020

In a season of giving thanks, I find myself reflecting on the Benjamin Value of gratitude. I am abundantly grateful for the Benjamin community - students who show perseverance and courage, teachers who embody kindness and compassion, and parents who trust us with the responsibility of instilling these values in their children.
 
In a year full of complications, the pandemic has not been without silver linings. One of the most remarkable things I have seen on our campus is the creativity of our teachers. 
 
When the suggestion of a pre-recorded stage show did not excite Mr. Jason Peck, our new drama teacher, he began to devise a plan for students in the Drama Club and multimedia production classes to work together on a new concept. Last weekend, the Upper School Drama Club premiered the School’s first full-length film. 
 
When a public gathering at a local bookstore was not a viable option, Library Media Specialist Mrs. Danielle Griffis set out to create a virtual Book Fair, including special Zoom bedtime stories each night. What a pleasure it was for me to read a beloved Thanksgiving tale to some of our Lower School students this week. 
 
And when our annual Florida Council of Independent Schools Conference was changed to a virtual event, our teachers wasted no time creating presentations that they could give to fellow educators in an online format. Mrs. Franzen, Middle School Social Studies Chair, led a discussion about how she uses the Holocaust to teach empathy. We set the bar high with our commitment to Holocaust studies, and I was proud to see that on display at the conference. Dr. Hope Myers, who always brings new and different ideas to TBS, led a fantastic session on the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. And Mrs. Lei Cohen, who teachers Mandarin Chinese at the Upper School, shared ideas for incorporating projects and culture into World Languages. She acknowledged that other World Language teachers are Benjamin served as mentors to her for this style of teaching. Watching  teachers share ideas and  learn from each other is a wonderful part about the world of education. To have such a talented group of educators at TBS makes me immensely grateful.
 
David C. Faus
Head of School
 
October 26, 2020

As the fall semester continues to unfold here in South Florida and I continue to adjust to an 85 degree October morning, I notice the traditional rhythms of a school year taking place here at Benjamin. While a Homecoming/Spirit Week at the Upper School centered on mostly virtual events, the energy and spirit of the student body was still evident in the fun costumes and unique games. Today, I had the pleasure of reading a book to a Kindergarten class full of both remote and on-campus learners. It was great to see a class interacting in person and on the screen, and I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with their listening skills. 
 
I have had the good fortune to have lunch with small groups of seniors (by advisory group) over the last few weeks. I have been asking them to reflect  a little bit about their time at Benjamin and share some of their experiences with me. I have been impressed by their thoughtful and candid responses and by their commitment to the School. One take away from these conversations is just how involved each senior is in the life of the school, both inside and outside of the classroom. Their leadership on the fields, on stage, in clubs, and in the classroom sets the tone for the rest of the Upper School.
 
Together with our admission team, I just wrapped up a series of virtual coffee chats with our newly enrolled Benjamin parents. It was with immense pride that I listened to their positive feedback. Families from out of state and those transitioning from local schools gave high praise for the sense of community that is fostered on our campus. As a relative newcomer myself, I am also grateful for the warm community that has embraced me this year. 
 
David C. Faus
Head of School
 
October 8, 2020

It is with great excitement that I begin my first blog post as Head of School at The Benjamin School. I’m looking forward to sharing my journey as a Buccaneer, and I’m happy you have stopped by to see what’s been happening here on campus.
 
Last week, I spent time in Mrs. Perretta's Upper School engineering class where students were creating mouse trap racers out of old cd's and cardboard. It’s always great to visit the classrooms, but it is especially exciting to see students engaged in hands-on problem solving. I'm looking forward to seeing these creations in action as students race their “cars” in the gym later this week.
 
I also had the chance to stop by Mrs. Glogower’s class to read to her Kindergarten students. The children were so enthusiastic and eager to offer their perspective on the book, “Be You!” by Peter Reynolds, which focuses on the value of each person’s unique personality. This story was a perfect choice for our students as it really underscores the School’s commitment to nurturing and valuing each student for their distinct talents and personalities. If you are looking for a new bedtime story for a young learner, I highly recommend this one for your library. 
 
David C. Faus
Head of School
A premier PK3 - Grade 12 independent, coeducational day school with campuses in North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Since 1960, The Benjamin School has provided a challenging college preparatory education to a diverse student body in a structured, nurturing community environment.
 
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Ph:  561.657.0075 or 561.747.0585