Chemistry Teachers Experiment with New Opportunities
By Lily Lovette--Eagle Staff Writer
August brought a new beginning for many Eagles, but during this same time, both chemistry teachers on campus have decided to depart from teaching, leaving years of service and numerous classes of memorable students behind.
Benjamin Mullins has been teaching at Franklin County High School for eight years. He started as a biology teacher and switched to chemistry four years ago.
“I have lots of great memories building relationships with the students. I enjoy seeing students I've taught out in public. I see kids now that are 25 that I taught 6 years ago and they have families and real jobs… Seeing students I've taught contributing to our community is the best thing about teaching for me,” Mullins explained.
Mullins decided to leave FCPS for a new job opportunity and potential election to town council, enabling him to grow and better provide for his family. Still, the departure is bittersweet.
“I've got a room full of 80 kids I’ve gotten to know. It's really hard to see all of them and tell them that I'm leaving but… you gotta do what's best for you and when you have an opportunity you have to take it, because no one's gonna hand it to you,” Mullins said.
Jennifer Bennett, on the other hand, is retiring from the classroom after twenty-nine years of teaching, about nine years at FCHS where she also served as senior co-sponsor.
“I loved working with my students and colleagues,” Bennett stated, “there was nothing I didn’t like.”
Current and former students have shown sorrow at seeing these educators go, but understand why they’re moving on.
“I think [Mullins] was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” senior Danae Crosby said. “I wouldn’t have been nearly as comfortable doing the work if it wasn’t for him.”
Principal Jon Crutchfield seemed to be equally disappointed about Bennett’s and Mullins’s departures. Nevertheless, he’s continually working to fill these positions for the student body. It isn’t easy, however.
“Our human resource office has a plan and we are seeking teachers like crazy. The problem is we have an immediate need and a teacher shortage. Our director realizes he needs to find some teachers for us but a lot of school districts in Virginia are in need of teachers,” Crutchfield admitted. “With both of them being incredibly likable teachers, it’s hard to see them leave. They’re both awesome teachers, Teacher of the Year types, and they both work really well connecting with the students.”
Mullins’ last day was Friday, September 2nd, while Bennett is staying until December.
Bennett and Mullins were the only chemistry teachers at FCHS, so students enrolled in chemistry this semester are transitioning to learning online through Virtual Virginia. Virtual Virginia is a Department of Education online instructional platform that allows students to take classes virtually in divisions where there is a shortage of teachers for particular subjects.
Online learning isn’t without its challenges. “When you're online, you can only receive help that is coded. Having a teacher that truly cares makes a big impact on your learning,” Crosby commented.
Mullins and Bennett have visibly connected with hundreds of students during their time on campus and will always remember the memories they’ve made.
“I love y’all,” Mullins concluded.