This year marks the 60th anniversary of what was once a three-car garage erected on a pineapple farm by two pioneering Northern educators. That dream, quite literally a one-room school house built by Marshall and Nancy Benjamin and called North Palm Beach Private School, has transformed over the past 60 years into The Benjamin School of today.
The School has evolved to include two state-of-the-art campuses in Palm Beach Gardens and North Palm Beach, Florida.
With multiplying enrollment, expansive course offerings, and emerging arts and athletic programs over the years, the School saw the need for new and renovated facilities. Over time, innovative spaces were erected on both campus including the 2-story, 13,000 square foot Maglio Family STEM Center where students as young as 3-years-old can explore and study collaboratively, to the world-class 850 seat performing arts center, and the Didsbury Learning Commons; a reimagined library space with a virtual reality lab.
While the 21st century unleashed a new-era of technological transformation, the School still honored the founding principles of Marshall and Nancy Benjamin.
“I love walking by the fish pond and bell in the morning when dropping my son off at school and knowing that he is learning to read using the Mae Carden method,” said Alumni Council President and current parent Paul Lawler ‘02. The Benjamins began using the Carden Method in the 60s when they first opened North Palm Beach Private School. Mr. Benjamin, who had the koi pond erected on campus, would ring the bell each morning to signal the start of the school day. The Benjamins transported the bell in the trunk of their car when they moved to Florida.
The Benjamins, pioneering educators, started a Kindergarten program that featured foreign language, science, music, and physical education, but most importantly, reading. The Benjamins believed an ability to read and a reverence for books meant that children could educate themselves for a lifetime.
Lawler ‘02 said it’s gratifying as a parent to see how much of what makes Benjamin a special place has remained the same, despite its growth and evolution.
“While the 60th anniversary of Benjamin marks another milestone in the School's history, it is also a reminder of all of the great traditions that still remain from its beginnings under the leadership of Mr. Benjamin," said Lawler.
Head of Lower School Dr. Kristen Sheehan said it's been a joy growing her career at Benjamin in tandem with the School's evolution. Sheehan, a former classroom teacher and curriculum coordinator, said the 60th anniversary serves as an opportunity to reflect on the School's rich traditions and history.
"The Benjamin of today would not be possible without the 'tradition of excellence' started by Marshall and Nancy Benjamin," said Sheehan. "Our 60th anniversary is a great reminder of their innovation, love of education, and commitment to fostering a wide-range of opportunities for young learners."
Sheehan, a past-parent of the School, said she is honored to be part of the Benjamin family.
The Diamond Anniversary will be celebrated with a series of all-school events chaired by past-parents Barbara and Jack Nicklaus, planned over the course of the year.