Local’s Choice ‘Best Teacher’ Chris Benson says he’s the ‘type of guy that likes to learn stuff’
In his annual staff evaluation with teacher Chris Benson, Glenwood Springs High School Principal Paul Freeman had only positive feedback.
“I said, in short, ‘Chris, you’re a phenomena, and in the top 1 percent of teachers,’” Freeman said.
Benson, 31, has taught social studies at GSHS for two years, and this year was voted best teacher in the Post Independent’s Local’s Choice.
It’s not the first time he has been lauded at GSHS. He was valedictorian when he graduated GSHS in 2006, and he hasn’t stopped learning since.
“I’m the type of guy that likes to learn stuff,” Benson said.
His principal agrees.
“He’s always thinking about what he can do better,” Freeman said.
Benson said he is surprised and flattered to win the Best Teacher award. But in Benson’s family, being a teacher is far from surprising.
“It’s like a weird cult or something in my family,” Benson said.
His father taught at Glenwood Springs Elementary and now drives a school bus. His mother taught elementary school for years as well, but the pedagogical proclivity doesn’t stop there.
“My sister teaches, my brother teaches. My brother-in-law teachers, my sister-in-law used to teach until she had kids,” Benson said.
Benson’s wife, Melissa, is a nurse, and the only immediate family member who is not a teacher. Only time will tell if Benson’s 7-month-old son, Luke, will become a teacher.
Benson said his parents and other teachers influenced him, but he also saw the positive role his parents played in his peers’ lives growing up.
“You get inspired by teachers you have over the years who make learning fun. For me, I wanted to do that for other kids, as much as I can,” he said.
After graduating from Colorado State University in 2010, he got a job teaching at Riverside Middle School in New Castle. He coached basketball at Glenwood Springs High School for several years before he was hired to teach history and civics in 2017.
Benson said it’s a little strange teaching where he went to high school, even though the building has been rebuilt since he graduated. There are about 10 teachers he remembers learning from as a student still at GSHS. His brother’s name is still listed in the halls for track accomplishments.
In addition to the standard career development opportunities that many teachers seek, Benson said he likes to steal ideas from his colleagues.
When he first arrived at the high school, he realized he would have to emphasize different things compared to the middle school.
In high school history, for example, there’s an element of students learning to write strong, argumentative essays.
“During my first year of teaching, during lunch break, I would sit down with as many English teachers as I could to ask about how to best teach good writing,” Benson said.
“I probably annoy most of the teachers in the building with me,” Benson said.
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Courtney Hassell says she could have been completely disillusioned with schools and education, and in many ways she was, after an experience three years ago at Glenwood Springs High School.