Former students return to Bennett Elementary School as teachers
Posted on 09/23/2020
Entrance of Bennett ES. Photos of each of the four teachers today and when they were younger.

It’s a common belief that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Well, adjust the time circuits, and crank up the flux capacitor. It’s back to the future for these Bennett Elementary School staffers.

Arriving in the academic year 2020-21, Bennett Elementary faculty and support staff initiate the start of another stellar season. Counted among their ranks are four teachers who look very familiar.

Bennett Principal Michelle Pohzehl explained.

“We have a pretty unique situation here at Bennett,” she said.
"It’s amazing that we have four former Bennett students who have returned to be teachers. They are an example of the high-quality program we have here at Bennett. Not only that, but many of their former teachers are still here and are mentoring them.”

Second Grade Teacher Haylee Foor, an Osbourn Park High School graduate, received her master’s degree from James Madison University this past spring.

“On my first day, all of my former teachers, and new ones reached out to welcome me back into the family. I’m excited to call Bennett home and to be a Bennett Bear again. I am who I am because of all these wonderful teachers, and I can’t wait to make them proud,” said Foor, a first-year educator.

Robyn Klatt, also a first-year educator, was in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and graduated from Unity Reed High School. She went on to study at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned a master’s degree. She now teaches third grade.

Klatt shared, “Bennett is such a supportive community and I feel so lucky to be a part of the Bennett family again. It definitely feels like home. I will never forget when Mrs. Kutsop-Hall, my favorite teacher, called to congratulate me while I was backstage at my high school graduation. The coolest part is that I am now in her old classroom.”

Welcoming Klatt to the third-grade team is second-year teacher Vanessa Robinson. Robinson went to Bennett in fourth and fifth grade as part of the students involved in gifted education today (SIGNET) program. Vanessa later graduated from Osbourn Park High School and continued her education at Virginia Tech, where she earned a master’s degree.

“When I graduated, I knew I wanted to come back home to Prince William County. At the job fair, I recognized Bennett right away and after connecting with Mrs. Pohzehl, was hired on the spot. Walking in the doors of Bennett for the first time since elementary school felt so surreal and yet like nothing had changed. I am so glad to work with such an amazing team,” Robinson shared.

Kyle Combs is in his second year as a physical education (PE) teacher at Bennett. Kyle graduated from Osbourn Park High and earned his health and PE degree at George Mason University.

Combs explains, “Going to SIGNET in fifth grade and exploring new topics in such a fun and inviting environment was always a great time. Not to mention, doing readers notebooks every week in Mrs. Rimkus’ class, and getting hand-written responses back from her that were always very genuine and fun to read.”

Several current staff members were mentors for the young students when they attended Bennett. Foor and Klatt have fond memories of their kindergarten teachers, Barbara Colley, and Sharon Watts. It was in their class that the two students first met.

Other influential staffers include: Binnie Grant (fourth grade), Julie Rimkus (fifth grade), Lesley King (reading specialist), Angela Yeh (music), Valerie Klasse (librarian), and Barbara Damato (library media assistant).

It’s a given that current and future Bennett Bears will wonder what it’s like to be a classroom teacher. Prince William County Public Schools has a number of innovative programs, such as Growing Our Own Teachers, that nurture high school students who desire a career in education. Until then, these students can learn first-hand from these four who are paying it forward on their home turf.