Benton surprised by LCS Teacher of the Year award

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk) Mary Kay Benton, Le Mars Community Middle School band instructor, is the 2014 Decades of Excellence Crystal Bell Teacher of the Year. She was presented with a certificate and notebook of nomination letters Tuesday during a band rehearsal. To purchase this photo log on to www.lemarssentinel.com.

LE MARS -- A Le Mars Community Middle School band instructor has been named the 2014 Decades of Excellence Crystal Bell Teacher of the Year.

The award was presented to Mary Kay Benton Tuesday during a band rehearsal.

Denise Anthony, of the Le Mars Community School District Foundation, and Sandy Downing, president of the Le Mars Community Schools Alumni Association, made the presentation.

"Mary Kay Benton is being honored for being a teacher who instills the love of music in her students, encourages them to be the best that they can be, and always has her door open, not only for band issues, but anything a middle school student might want to talk about," Anthony said.

Band members, school administrators, foundation and alumni association members were also present for the award presentation.

Anthony said it was "humbling" to read the letters of support for Benton's nomination.

"The powerful common theme in all of them was her accessibility and helpfulness towards her students, parents and coworkers," Anthony said.

After applause and cheers from her students and others, Benton said the award is "overwhelming."

She said she was honored and knows there are many others in the district who are also deserving of the award.

Benton began her teaching career with the Le Mars Community School District in the 1991-92 school year.

Since that time, she has been teaching instrumental music at the middle school.

"There's never a day I don't want to come to school," Benton said.

She instructs the seventh and eighth grade bands.

Benton's husband, Randy, is the music instructor for the district's sixth and seventh grade bands.

The couple has two children, Sarah, an eighth grader at Le Mars Community Middle School and Luke, a fifth grader at Kluckhohn Elementary.

Benton was nominated for the award by Debra and John Ahlers and Teresa and Tom Sauer, parents of some of Benton's previous students, along with Sarah Benton.

The Decades of Excellence Crystal Bell Award is co-sponsored by the Le Mars Community School District Foundation and the LCS Alumni Association.

The award is presented annually to honor outstanding teachers who have dedicated their careers to the education of the district's children.

Benton will be honored at the Foundation Banquet Wednesday, April 30.

The 6:30 p.m. banquet will be in the lower level of the Le Mars Convention Center. The public is welcome to attend.

Tickets are available at the LCS superintendent's office by calling 546-4155.

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