They say that first impressions are crucial in defining one’s characteristics. They say that, regardless of the situation, a first impression is always the first chance in creating an accurate representation of who a person is. Now, while this isn’t always the case, upon speaking to one, beautiful woman, I can say with full certainty that there is a lot of truth to this statement.
My first impression of Ms. Patricia Bengert portrays one of the many reasons why she has been chosen as this week’s Valpo's Life in the Spotlight.
Bengert, who is a native of Hammond, Indiana and a graduate of Bishop Noll High School, has dedicated most of her life to being a selfless role model to others. She has taught English, French, U.S. History, World History, and has coached Speech & Debate in private and public schools for 50 years.
“I recall reading somewhere that if you love what you do for a living, you never go to “work”; you never have a “job”! That statement describes me exactly. I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was ten years old, and I never for one moment regretted my choice or wanted to do anything else,” she explains.
This passion for influencing others and shaping the lives of young people is what has allowed many of her former students to describe her as being such a cheerful, positive, and kind-hearted person.
“I watched young people grow, discover themselves, learn! And I was a vital part of that growth, that discovery! How uniquely fortunate I have been,” she says.
Bengert followed her 5th-grade dream of becoming a teacher and this has allowed her to become a crucial leader in Valparaiso. For that, I thank her. It is people like her, people with warmth and compassion, that truly make a difference in the lives of others.
Alongside her genuine affection for students, Bengert is very passionate about travelling: “For twenty years, I took students and their families on European trips, and I sincerely believe these trips proved to be as vital a part of their education as their classroom experiences. They were exposed to different ideas, cultures and lifestyles, and, hopefully, became more open-minded and tolerant of that which is different. In fact, I had a maxim with which I proudly and openly stated I tried to brainwash my students: ‘Just because someone is different from you does not make them wrong; it just makes them different.’ Travel, I believe, underscored the truth of that maxim.”
While Bengert retired 3 years ago and no longer travels as much, Bengert’s time is well-spent as being a proud grandmother, but because she does miss the classroom, she still goes back to St. Paul (where she used to teach) to help students put on drama productions.
Even though I, personally, spoke with Ms. Bengert for a very small amount of time, I already got a glimpse of her amazing personality. From the tenderness of her voice to her willingness to answer all my questions, I know that she has definitely deserved the honor of being a Valpo Life in the Spotlight. Her passion for teaching & travelling and for helping young students grow makes this amazing woman really stand out, and I can only hope to meet someone else who possesses all the exceptional characteristics that she does.
Stay awesome Ms. B.