For 25 years Bonnie has helped make this magic happen. She picks up Legos and does loads of sheets and makes sure pantries are stocked with coffee and ketchup. We’re tagging along not because she wants to understand what happens at The House – she’s got that down – but because she wants to understand better. Giving brief tours to new families is a Hospitality Volunteer’s responsibility, but she wants to know more, wants to give in-depth tours for these kinds of groups.
Bonnie Benes retired from Prairie in June. After forty years of teaching – the last thirty-four in Wind Point – this summer is the first in four decades she’s not mentally preparing to return to school. Rather, she’s mentally preparing for how she will stay away. _____ Roughly two months earlier. June. The day after Commencement for the Class of 2018 and guests would give anything for summer’s relentless heat. Mother Nature is in a miserable, drizzly mood, but it doesn’t matter. Campus is still buzzing. Nothing could keep the people away. Over 300 guests register for Bonnie’s retirement celebration. The number of people that show up is even higher. They come in shawls and slacks and windbreakers. They come from across the country. They come carrying bourbon or something Badger red. (Bonnie is a big fan of both.) Family and friends and co-workers and former students – goodness, the students – they all come to thank Mrs. B. for what she’s meant in their lives. Some of her close acquaintances say a few words. Cathy Taylor ’87 talks about what it’s meant to have Bonnie as a role model and friend all these years. Kat Clark ’08 talks about being a timid teen who, in Bonnie, found a steadying presence whose compassion ultimately influenced her decision to pursue a career in education. US science teacher Kevin Will, another Prairie fixture – he and Bonnie started at TPS the same year – talks about what Bonnie has meant to the school, about their close friendship, about the heart-stopping canoe adventures of field trips past.
NO ONE LIKE MRS B. Bonnie’s ability to put all of my angst regarding adolescent development into perspective was essential to my mental well-being. I loved sitting on her proverbial “couch” while she listened to my worries. Her wisdom was always spoton and I have been known to call her since graduation. Hope she leaves a forwarding number. Sara Birndorf, parent of Josh Birndorf ’16 I remember exactly the first time I met Bonnie. It was her first day as the Prairie Physical Education teacher and I was the Primary School Art teacher. That afternoon I was in the lower art room when I heard a loud sound – someone was singing and skipping down the ramp. It was Bonnie – instant friendship! There is no one like her. Cathy McCombs, Retired Prairie Teacher