2 min read August 2022 — In an interview with Invest:, David Faus, head of school at The Benjamin School, discussed the value of independent schools for students and how the strength of Florida’s education system is sometimes underrated. “For The Benjamin School, it’s an opportunity to be more selective because we have absolutely exploded on the enrollment front,” he said.
What have been the key milestones for The Benjamin School over the past 24 months?
What I’m most proud of is how we navigated the pandemic, as the school has been open almost the entire time. There were windows, like March 2020 when the pandemic broke, when we went virtual but by August 2020, we had the technology in place and the personnel trained to offer both live and remote learning, although 90% of our students attended live classes. Our teachers are willing to be on the frontlines and remain committed to relational teaching, which distinguishes us. We stayed nimble and learned a lot about the power and resources of technology in the classroom that we will continue to tap into moving forward. It’s made the classroom much more accessible.
What are the distinguishing characteristics of Palm Beach from an educational perspective?
The caliber and quality of independent schools here is much stronger than I expected. Florida has a reputation that is not always flattering when it comes to secondary education but I was really surprised by the high standard of systems and policies that are in place. We’re a young school compared to many in the nation, so I had preconceived notions, but I would put ourselves and our competitors in the area up against any in the country. I was also struck by the sense of balance in the student population that I had not experienced broadly in my time in the Northeast.
Why should families choose The Benjamin School?
Though young at a national level, our 60-year-old school is one of the oldest in Florida. We’re proud of that reputation and want to make sure more families know about The Benjamin School. Families look to us for their child to be challenged and to have a broad array of opportunities in and outside the classroom. They’re also looking for a peer group with a shared commitment to education. The common denominator among our students is motivation. They’re here because they’re motivated, prepared and eager to tackle the day’s work. For the right student, this is a really good environment to support them.
How is The Benjamin School accommodating a more diverse student population?
It’s an area we are working very hard on and have a lot of board support for. We believe access to a Benjamin education is a core value of the school. For us, it’s about strategic and tactical outreach. We work with our diverse families and have them help us get introductions into their communities. The Black and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce will work with them to host events here on campus to connect with the community and increase the career pathways for our students. We also have a strong local alumni base who have been a huge resource to our students in opening up their professional lives and paving the way for excellent career prospects. Just as important is our hiring of faculty and staff, as we want them to reflect our student body and communities.
What is your outlook for The Benjamin School over the next two to three years?
This is a really interesting yet fortunate time to be in Palm Beach. We are in a place like many other Florida communities that are seeing significant growth. We’ve worked closely with the Palm Beach Business Development Board and have the fingers on the pulse of who is seriously looking at Palm Beach for opportunities. For The Benjamin School, it’s an opportunity to be more selective because we have absolutely exploded on the enrollment front and there is way more demand than there are spots available. There’s a perpetual wait list for many grade levels and it’s caused us to rethink strategically and thoughtfully about our strength and student fit. Acceptance rates a decade ago were around 60%, but now they are down to 30%. There’s a burden with that, and how we can continue providing a valuable educational experience while being mindful of growing access and diversity for our students, which will be a constant work in progress.
For more information, visit: