Glenwood Springs teacher has an extra drive for his job |

Glenwood Springs teacher has an extra drive for his job

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Being a teacher is more than just teaching, according to Sopris Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Jim Benson.

“It’s all about the kids,” Benson said.It’s obvious that Benson means what he says as he sits in the entrance of Sopris Elementary School as children rush through the halls on their way to various classes. It didn’t matter what grade the students were in, or if they weren’t in Benson’s class, he knew them all and said hi as they passed by.But for Benson, the impact he has on the students extends far beyond the classroom; he also gives several students a ride to and from school, five days a week.”I’ve been driving a bus route for 20 years,” Benson, 57, said. “I taught in North Dakota before coming here, and I drove a bus up there while I was teaching, too.”In all, Benson has been an elementary teacher for 26 years, 20 with the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD). He’s always driven a bus route because it’s a good way to earn some extra money, but it’s another way he can help out the kids and the district.

“I like driving first of all,” he admitted. “Driving the bus, it’s a great way to start the day, and I’m the first one in the morning to welcome the kids.”Benson’s days begin around 5 a.m.; he either rides his bike or drives to the RFSD bus depot usually by 6 a.m. He starts his route up Four Mile Road to Sunlight Mountain Resort each school day promptly at 6:33 a.m. The district designates that he picks up only high school and elementary students along the Four Mile corridor to simplify his day.After dropping off the high school students, Benson drives his students to Sopris Elementary and parks his bus outside of his classroom. From 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. he teaches class, with a lunch period in the middle. Then, after school he jumps back on the bus and drives back up to Sunlight before returning the bus about 5 p.m.”It’s a longer day, but I still like it,” Benson said. “It means a lot more work at home in the evening and on the weekends.”But he doesn’t seem to mind.

“Well, attitude is a big thing, you know,” Benson said. “I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say it was taxing, physically and so forth, but attitude is probably the biggest thing as far as getting through everything.”After all, it’s not about him. When the day is done and Benson is at home he knows that he’s contributed to each of the students on this bus and in his classroom that day. And that is what matters to him.”I just really like the kids,” Benson said. “I like driving the kids on the bus, and I like teaching them in the classroom. It’s all about the kids.”Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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