This article was written by Andrew Baker who is a senior in the Journalism class.
“So I graduated college in Russia and I came to Vermont because I used to be an exchange student here.”
When Olga Benoit was in high school it was her first time ever coming to Vermont. She was an exchange student from Russia. Both of her parents were teachers in Russia so she knew she also wanted to be a teacher. She returned 20 years ago to work as a teacher at Spaulding. When Covid hit she quit her job to homeschool her kids, now she is a High School Interventionist here at U-32. When coming here it was a little weird for her, she went from having everyone know her to having no one know her.
When Olga was a young girl, her parents taught at a few schools in Tomsk, Russia. “My mom taught chemistry in a public school, then went to college to teach college level chemistry,” she said. Her mom also had a different experience teaching in Russia. “She went to Chernobyl power plants and worked there as a lead chemist,” Olga said.
Her father taught music, but in Russia, normal school and music school were separate. “The kids would go to a regular school in the morning and in the afternoon they would go to music school everyday.” At the time he was teaching, the Soviet Union was still at large. “Eventually he became the principal of the best music school in the city so he had a lot of connections, which was good for us.”
At Spaulding, she ended up teaching English as a second language to students. “They had a lot of Russian speaking students,” she said. “Then the pandemic started so I homeschooled my kids for a couple of years, then I’m back at it, but in a different school.”
She chose to come to U-32 instead of going back to Spaulding. She said “I’ve always considered you to be our sister district.” She lives in Montpelier and her kids go to high school there so it is a lot closer. “My daughter did a lot of sports,” she said, “and there were some students from U-32 on her team and some of her friends would go to U-32 and play for this district.”
Being at U-32 is very different for her. When she was at Spaulding everyone knew who she was. “I used to get all these hellos and big hugs and kind of this you know people are happy to see my students are happy to see me.” Then on the first day here at U-32 she realized, “I was standing in the hallway and there were very very few students who said hello, not because they were mean or anything like that because they didn’t know me.”