New Hampshire Born, Chicago Bred, At Ridgewood And Here To Stay!
By Mia Triantifillou
About ten years ago, an ambitious graduate and dedicated writer named Matthew Bennett decided to step away from the east coast life he was accustomed to and shift his focus to the Midwest, right here in sweet home Chicago.
“I never thought I’d be living in Chicago, that would have shocked me when I was a kid,” said Bennett when asked what a younger version of himself would think if he saw how he was doing today. Bennett shared how he absolutely loves the sincerity and kindness found here, compared to back home. He also said that if he were able to peek into his future, his younger self would be, “…pretty shocked, I don’t think I would have guessed teaching at that point, but I think I would ultimately be very pleased at how things have turned out. It wouldn’t have been an idea that would have occurred to me 10 years ago.”
Bennett did not immediately discover his love for teaching world literature. As it turns out, some of his initial pursuits were in entering the realm of sports journalism. Bennett explained that “I always loved reading and writing, once I’d been out of school for awhile I realized that I enjoyed working with high school aged students. So I figured, why not combine the two?”
It is clear that Bennett loves the literary world, and bringing this world to the realm of high school students is a very eye-opening experience for him. The most rewarding part of being an English teacher, Bennett says, is all in the texts. He explains how “It’s so much fun to be able to have kids read poems, stories, and books that I love, and share that love and discuss it with each other.” He also loves reading student writing. Despite all the work, he claims that he really gets to know someone that way. “To me helping students with their writing is a lot more fulfilling than correcting someone’s math test,” Bennett says. He loves how easy it is to engage students and encourage them to further their understanding through these timeless pieces of literature. When asked which literary character Bennett relates to the most and why, Bennett said he relates to Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. He explains how Carraway is “never in the center of the drama, but always enjoying watching the drama,” and that is a place he’s comfortable being. Not in the center of the drama like some of the other characters, yet still very much apart of it.
Bennett believes he is a perfect fit for Ridgewood High School because to him building relationships with students has the utmost importance. He states that it’s clear that Ridgewood exemplifies this value, and he respects and admires that, coming from a previous school that did not make teacher-student relationships a priority. “It’s really impressive. I haven’t seen a negative teacher-student interaction thus far. It really has been overwhelmingly positive.” Mr. Bennett loves this about our school and can’t wait to build more relationships with students as he continues the next chapter of his career here at Ridgewood High School.