You didn't know what you were doing, but I sure noticed.
I didn't have the privilege to meet you until senior year. I walked into your class on the first day and not going to lie, I was a little taken back by you. You have such a strong personality and are so outgoing that I didn't know if we'd get along. Boy, I was incredibly wrong.
You instantly became one of my favorite teachers. I'd look forward to your class every day, not only due to the fact that I had it with some of my best friends, but because I got to learn from you.
You're the reason I'm able to get up in front of a room of people and speak without fear. You're the reason I came out of my bubble and started to be more outgoing. You're the reason I'm not scared to voice my opinion. You're the reason I've taken a new perspective on things and am no longer stuck in my closed-minded ways. Every single day, you were teaching me something more than just English. You were teaching me to find myself. You taught me to enjoy every single day. You recognized the bad days I was having and helped managed to switch them into good ones. You taught me an abundance of life lessons. You didn't realize that you were doing so, but I'm forever grateful I had you as a teacher.
I'm also not the only one who thinks this about you. A few former students had some kind words to say...
"He definitely genuinely cared about us. Not only just us, but he cared about our futures. It was obvious. I appreciated that because being 'just kids' no one ever seemed to care. He was different, he made us feel special. He also brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me become more social with my peers." -Adam Sandage
"He allowed me to write deeply, think complex. He taught me to enjoy every single moment life throws at me. Mr. Bennett helped me prepare for college with how to take notes, study easily, etc. However, the most important thing he taught me was to pursue things I enjoy the most, because eventually life will intervene and you won't be able to have forever. For example, family, current friends, hobbies, etc. In addition, he also warned me to not take a loan out for a car." -Josh Grubbs
"He was one of the best teachers really. He was one of the only ones who tried to get involved and to be 'cool'. He was our friend along with our teacher. I respect him for that. Also, he's a pretty awesome neighbor to have." -Steven Smith
"He influenced my life a lot. Not only by his teaching skills, but how he was our teacher and our friend. He was always so kind and helpful. He took his time with me and he taught me things about life that I didn't know I needed to hear. He had us listen and analyze meaningful music and that opened my eyes. At the end of the year, he sang to us a song about how special life is and it made us, especially me, feel like he was someone we would never forget." -Hannah Craft
"First off, he was young so he was easy to relate to and he was very understanding. He was just really down to Earth about everything. He was one of the few high school teachers that told you 'I'm going to prepare you for college' and actually did it. He didn't lie to us about how 'hard' college would be our first year. He most impacted me in the way that he taught. He taught me a lot of valuable things about writing, thinking critically and just helped me become a better person. Just an awesome guy all around." -Addison Moore
"Mr. Bennett was a teacher that let every student know they were accepted and equal. Students that weren't even his own were impacted by his kind presence and fun methods. Being taught by him has changed many students' outlook on learning. He even made learning about sushi exciting. He prompted us to look deeper into the meaning of everything. He taught us not to see unnecessary differences that separates most of society today, whether that's class, race, gender or anything else. He made everyone feel equal and he wouldn't tolerate anything less. His class was safe and that made it all the easier to learn. Mr. Bennett is truly an unforgettable teacher that incorporated life lessons in everyday scholar education." -Caprese Parks
"My favorite memory of Mr. B was when we would sit in groups and have to talk about The Great Gatsby. I never ever talked and then one day he threw the stuffed heart at me (signaling me to talk) and boom. I had to talk. He asked me what my opinion was and I gave it. His response was just huh okay and then we moved on. No one tried to argue with me. I was worried that he thought I was stupid. He asked me to stay after class and he told me I had a great opinion and that he wished I would talk more in class. I still didn't after that day because I hate group work, but I always think about him thinking I was smart and good enough to talk in class. I always made 100's on all of my tests in there and he picked on me constantly. I remember my favorite day in his class. I was studying for another class and he let me get up and draw a diagram of a heart on the board and he just sat down and let me teach an anatomy lesson. He always made me feel special and smart, and for that Mr. B will always hold a special place in my heart." -Taylor Page
"Mr. Bennett was more than just an English teacher. He was a life teacher. Mr. B taught us perspective that every high school senior needs to take with them into the world. He taught his students to stop looking at things as "black and white" and look at them with flexibility for what they are. Because of him, I have found an entire new, blossoming world of interests that involve various forms of art. I now can look at the world through open-minded eyes and spend more time enjoying life rather than analyzing it. Mr. Bennett is no doubt a person I will always remember and draw concepts from throughout the rest of my adult life. You've taught me numerous things that I've used in just 7 months I've been at college and each time I flash back to sitting in your class." -Matney Davis
I hope this helps you realize the impact you left on all of us. It's been almost a year since any of us have had you as a teacher and we're still this grateful. We will never forget you. You're the teacher that every single student needs to have at least once in their lives, Bennett. I start every single day out with seeing that buckeye and knowing that it's going to be a good day.
To the teacher who helped shape me into the person I have become today, thank you.