Alan Bennett

Our Teachers

A long over due collection of tribute pages to the individuals who accepted the challenge of educating us.

Alan Bennett is feted here by more than a few of his students from the 1970s

Mr. Alan Bennett

Mr. Bennett was my tenth grade English teacher and he left an impression on quite a few people. He said he would push us, but nothing like what he did to the 11th graders he taught. He reasoned they were closer to going to college and really needed all the intense instruction he could give them.

Books we read that I recall well

  • A Separate Peace

  • Silas Marner

  • Catcher In The Rye

  • A Tale Of Two Cities

He also taught us some poetry. His favorite poem was by Andrew Marvel, “To His Coy Mistress.”

We also read more than one play by William Shakespeare. They were comedies as I recall.

Enjoy the comments I collected from 2012 listed below the photo.

Alan BennettFrancesca Cavallaro:

Tom Jones doppelganger.

Griff Ace:

He taught me the meaning of the word fuck during a summer vacation at RHS. After hearing someone outside yell it and everyone laughing he spelled it out in class f-for u-un- c-common-k-knowledge on the blackboard. Most i learned that summer. LOL

Bob Rahm:

I saw Tom Jones perform, great show. Al Bennett was my favorite RHS teacher. As Mr. Cooke (BF) taught me grammar, Mr. Bennett taught me to appreciate literature, and began to teach me how to relay my thoughts in writing.

Harry Uberti:

Bob, I have the same rememberance of both teachers. Big Al actually got me interested in reading. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

Sue Raymond:

One of my favorites. I remember his pep talk before the SATs . “Don’t worry, in the grand scheme of life this is not important.”

Becky Deetz:

And Big Al? I loved him so much as a teacher that I didn’t even care that he would eat with his mouth open while expounding on some fine literary point. He and Amy Emmers were my favorite teachers at RHS.

Al isn’t with us any more. I stopped by his classroom the last year he was teaching at RHS; sounded as though a lot of people did that, which he loved. I think he got it.

Kathleen Carley:

He was a hoot and a great English teacher. One of a few that I do remember.

Tim Daly:

My Al Bennett story involves another RHS classic teacher, Jack Wanek. Autumn 1976 sitting in Big Al’s English class and Rob Kraemer comes knocking on Big Al’s door. Remember, things were pretty loose around there in those days. You could get away with that sh*t depending on the teacher. So I step outside to talk to Rob. He, Johnny Frazz and I had Wanek for History. We had this big ass project in Wanek’s class and Frazz, Rob and I came up with the brilliant idea of sharing the load between the three of us but handing in our projects as if we had done them individually. Well, Big Al overheard this litltle scheme as Rob and I were discussing it in the hallway. Big Al lowers the guilt boom on me and tells me something along the lines of, “I won’t rat you out. You decide what the right thing is here.” BOOM…that was the end of it. So I could go ahead with Rob and Frazz and split the workload for the Wanek deal or I could come clean with Mr. Wanek. Feck what am I gonna do here? I asked that question to myself but I knew the answer already. I worshipped Al Bennett as a teacher and a person. He was the biggest reason why I ended up becoming an English teacher myself. So, I have to go give it up to Wanek but I have no idea how he is going to react. He was pretty cool himself. I remember at the end of our senior year he invited a few of us over to his house for beers. Anyway, I have the powwow with Jack and he says, “This is what I will do. Hand the paper in and I will take care of it. And since you are coming clean I will give you a chance to make it up.” So in the next few days or so our projects get handed back to us in class and I still have no idea how I am not going to get an “E” on this thing since I told Jack we basically took the short cut. Jack’s speech that day, “Well, some of you did really well on this. And some of you are idiots. It wasn’t very obvious at all that some of these papers weren’t done by you individually, that you did them in groups. I should fail some of you but I’ll give you a chance to make it up…” And a day or so later when I was walking into Big Al’s class he was standing by the door as he often did and he gives me a little nod and says, “I heard you did the right thing.” And I nodded back and that was the end of it. It was never spoken of again.

Carrie Stewart:

Loved loved loved him. He passed away several years ago, heart attack, I think. Last I heard, his daughter was a teacher at Somerville πŸ™‚ so in 10th grade we read Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. You may recall the ending when Sidney is guillotined and says,’Tis a far, far better thing I do…’ Well Al held a debate about whether that was an optimistic or pessimistic ending. My memory is that I was the only supporter for optimistic (story of my life πŸ˜‰ and he agreed with me. Gave me confidence to attempt to be an English major – at least for awhile πŸ˜‰

David Hohman:

He instilled a love of reading that is with me to this day! One of my favorite teachers of all time.


Hilary Nocka:

One of my absolute favorites, as well…sadly he passed away quite young–42 or something like that…I remember reading his obit in the Record one day, just by chance and being absolutely traumatized by the news…he was one of the best! I, too, can still hear him reading aloud from Tale of Two Cities…I so wish he had lived long enough to teach my kids at RHS–a true inspiration!

Stephanie Jones:

I adored Mr. Bennett. He took an extraordinary amount of time and effort to encourage my love of reading, literature, history and justice. During junior year, he assigned me an entire reading list of books by black authors – such as Ralph Ellison and Imamu Baraka – and made me write book reports about them, which he graded and discussed with me in depth. I told him that it wasn’t fair to give me so much extra work that no one else had to do. He said, “Get used to it, kid. Life’s not fair. You’re black, so you’re always going to have to work harder than everybody else. I’ve been trying to get these books in the curriculum for years, but can’t. But I’m not going to let you graduate from high school never having read anything by a writer who looks like you as part of your official workload.”

I called him after I graduated from college and told him how much I appreciated everything he had done for me. He said, “Oh, shut up, Jones. I’m not grading you anymore so you don’t have to kiss my as*!”

I called him a few years later and his daughter told me that he had passed away a few months earlier from cirrhosis of the liver. So sad.

He was a wonderful man.

Samantha Bennett Stankiewicz:

Thank you for the great memories you’ve shared in your posts. My Dad loved teaching at RHS. Unfortunately we lost him in 1988 when he was just 47. I have been an art teacher at Somerville for the past 15 years and he is one of my biggest inspirations too.

Sue Broadhurst:

Mr. Bennett was Student Congress Advisor and a really great friend to me. So sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye. I remember reading a mindless book in the library one day and he told me to forget that shit. He handed me a classic and turned me into a literary snob. I am still grateful!

April Reed:

I really liked Mr. Bennett. I learned so much-my vocabulary expanded that year. On day 1 of school that year, he read my full name and said it sounded very poetic

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