Saying Bye to Benson High

Tah Si Soe Thaw, Reporter

Come August 2021, students will not be greeted by Paula Vazzano or Paula McCright, as her older former students knew her, at her classroom door. After 32 years of teaching English in OPS, Vazzano has decided to retire.

It is ironic how long Vazzano has been teaching considering she never wanted to teach in the first place. She started teaching because her mother told her to get endorsed to teach as a fall back in case, she could not get a job after graduating from college.

“Before becoming a teacher, I had the thought of being an actress, a psychiatrist, and a dentist,” Vazzano said. “I wanted to be a psychiatrist because the thought of working with people who need help is fascinating, while acting seems very fun and I felt like it was barely any work.”

However, she fell in love with teaching when she undertook her student-teaching assignment to complete her endorsement. Since then, she knew what she wanted to do with her life, and she never looked back.

Her first-year teaching was 1989-1990 where Vazzano taught at Northwest High School, home of the Huskies. In August 1991, she however switched to teaching at Benson Magnet High School where she stayed teaching at for 30 years.

When she arrived at Benson, the school was very traditional, with a schedule of eight periods per day, during that time Benson was undergoing a major renovation, at which time the new gym was built, among other significant changes.

Throughout her teaching career, Vazzano has taught AP Literature and Composition, AP Language and Composition, English Review, Creative Writing, and Edmentum. She has also taught Academic Decathlon, Word Study, and Writing Skills.

Since she has been working here for many years, she has seen many significant changes in Benson. One of the significant changes she saw at Benson over the years is a change in demographics, particularly among the immigrant students. She finds it fortunate, because every student at Benson contributes in some way to Benson’s rich tapestry of diversity.

“Benson is always evolving, but at its core, it remains a family as much as school,” according to Vazzano.

While the school has been family for so long, Vazzano is now parting ways with the school, students, and the staffs.

“I must say that my heart aches a little when I picture leaving my students,” Vazzano said. “However, my children were the sole reason I decided to retire, and at the end of the day, I retired because it is potentially financially prudent.”

In her final year of teaching, Vazzano received the Alice Buffet Outstanding Teacher Award, which is not only a prestigious award for teachers, but also perfect that she won in the last year that she has been working.

With her decision of leaving, Vazzano is going to miss the humor, quirkiness, and the sarcasm of her students along with the endearing friendship that has been developed and the moments where kindness unfolds. She will also miss the camaraderie and support of her colleagues and friends here too.

When she is gone, Vazzano wants to be remembered as someone who knew her subjects well and who was willing to learn, and willing to be helpful. Vazzano hopes that she helped encouraged people and made them laugh, just like how many of the people in the building has done for her. All in all, she hoped the students and staffs enjoyed her company because she certainly enjoyed theirs.