Churchill Bulldogs 3

Longtime Principal Dr. Joan Benz and Her Students Share What Makes Churchill High School So Special

Churchill High and the Bulldogs

After serving as principal of Churchill High for 21 years, Dr. Joan Benz is retiring. She spent 44 years working in Montgomery County Schools as a teacher, office specialist, assistant principal and principal at seven different schools. We chatted with her about her impressive career and her love of Churchill High.

What led you to a career in education? 

As a very young child, I was in awe of my teachers and loved going to school. Babysitting and annually teaching swimming to children in a summer recreation program confirmed my path. I never deviated from that path!

Since you are retiring, what will you miss most about being principal of Churchill School? 

My greatest loss will be my daily interactions with hundreds of children, my amazing staff members and my incredibly supportive parents and community members.

What are your thoughts about this generation—those in high school right now?

Our futures are in strong hands with this generation of young people. They are focused. They set goals and use their intelligence and motivation to attain those goals. Our students at Churchill give back every day. They use their voices to support common concerns and to decry injustices. They tutor, fundraise for local and national charities, conduct food drives and recognize our community heroes and heroines by delivering cookies to fire stations and police departments at holiday time. As our diplomats, doctors, lawyers, politicians, support service professionals and parents of the future, we are in strong and responsible hands. 

What are the greatest obstacles you see for those graduating from high school today? What must they overcome that we didn’t? 

The world is not as stable as it may have been previously. Information and technology are bombarding us and will intensify in the future. Some of this is positive, some, detrimental. Leading a balanced life in a competitive world will be a challenge. The more we prepare our young people now, hopefully, the more they can manage their challenges. 

What’s next? Will you travel? Do you plan on continuing to work with young people?  

I definitely will continue to travel, to read extensively and I will work with young people. Having been the wife of a naval officer, an educator and a licensed therapist, I can continue to give back. I am very interested in assisting military families in their transitions from one duty station to the next. My specific interest is to guide young people to adjusting and to being successful in their new educational programs. 

Lucas Lin, sophomore

What makes Churchill High School special?

I love the community. It’s unique in that it lets me express myself and be a leader. No matter what, there’s tons of support everywhere.

What is your favorite subject in school and why?

I like any kind of science class. All the information feels useful, and the curriculum has lots of great experiments to do—last week in biology we dissected a pig.

Harv Shergill, junior

What brings out the bulldog in you?

Seeing the diversity and opportunity at this school, all the resources to learn and discover.

What do you do outside of school?

Woodworking and doing public service with Sikh Kid to Kid.

Cyrilia Williams, sophomore

What makes your school special?

Many reasons! The attentive teachers, students who strive in academics and extracurricular activities to represent our school as No. 1 in the state of Maryland and, of course, or mascot, the bulldog.

What is your favorite subject in school and why?

English and math. Both classes allow me to think and be reliant on my own knowledge and to complete tasks such as problems or writing creative essays and stories is so fun and interesting.

Hannah Bush, junior

What do you love to do outside of school?

I am a competitive triathlete. I love staying active, and I also enjoy listening to music and hanging out with my three younger sisters. In addition, I have a huge passion for volunteering. This year I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award through the creation of my club, Churchill Heart Factory, which partners with the Ronald MacDonald House in Baltimore. I am always looking for new ways to give back to my community.

What is your favorite subject in school and why?

This year I took AP Chemistry and my amazing teacher, Mrs. Boppana, pushed me every day. She taught me that it’s not about grades, it’s about actually understanding and learning the material, which is such an important message, especially at a school as competitive a Churchill.

Ryan Needle, junior

What brings out the bulldog in you?

Getting involved at Churchill, whether that is organizing a TEDx event, playing on the varsity tennis team, leading tours as a Churchill ambassador, teaching students how to use a 3-D printer or simply talking with friends at lunch—this makes me a bulldog.

What makes your school special?

Churchill is a place where I can be myself and pursue the things I love.