Eric Larson, a technology education teacher here at MHS, submitted the following testimonial:
After 30 plus years, Mike Bendzinski is retiring from the field of teaching.
As a Technology Education teacher he has seen the changes in the field. What was once known as Industrial Arts, is now known as Technology Education, the ever-changing field that applies concepts of core academics. Whatever you name the field, he was a teacher, and though “teacher” was the role he played here at Manchester High School, he was essentially a father figure to many of his students — and to me. He never hesitated to take a student aside to find the root of a problem. He had a way of revealing the good within an individual. He knew how to reach the heart of anyone in just a moment after beginning to talk with you.
What amazes me most about “Benny” is his consistency. When he worked with students he set the bar high, but was never afraid of coaching them to get there. He consistently did this with each set of students who sat in his classroom. A teacher of all strands in Tech Ed., he, in his last 15 years at MHS, was known as the Photo and Graphics teacher. He ran many of his classes like a business to give students an authentic experience in graphic and photo design.
To many students Mr. Bendzinski was also known as “Coach,” and for year he led the MHS cross-country team to amazing successes, including State championships in 1993, 1995 and 2003, and a New England State Championship in 1994.
A gifted runner himself, he did have a sweet spot for runners. He knew how to get his team emotionally engaged and how to bring the best out of each of his runners. He had a real love for his sport and his passion helped MHS to 12 different Class LL championships. Fittingly, he won the Connecticut Coach of the year award in 2005.
I started here in March of 1999. I was just a kid, at 24, stepping into the workforce, with a military background and a degree, and I figured I could handle anything you threw at me. However, high school was a different ballgame. High school is a memorable time in everyone’s life; a time for maturing, a time for recognizing your true self, a time for making friendships and relationships, and a time for developing goals for life. It’s amazing how that lifestyle and culture had escaped me as life moved on, and I came in with a full head of steam, no-holds-barred. For me, it had been six years since being in the classroom. Lucky for me I had a coach who helped me, a gentle Tech. Ed. teacher who in many aspects was my saving grace.
In many aspects of his life Benny was a coach; a coach in the classroom, a coach on the field and a coach and mentor to me. He always had time during the day for what was important, the soul. Teaching is not an easy career, and from time to time my coach was there for me just like any coach would be. He picked me up when I was down. If I had a problem in the classroom I could talk about it with him. He could always bring things back into focus and remind me of what was really important.
So we say goodbye to a guy who has been a quiet, humble and gentle coach for the students and faculty at Manchester High School. However, his legacy and friendship live on through his spirit that will always fill our hallways, our classrooms, our hearts, and our souls.