“It’s like playing for the Yankees.”
That’s how Bennett VanOudenallen, an IHHS 1994 graduate, feels about being part of the “starting line-up” of new teachers at IH this year. After many years of experience teaching, Benn is thrilled to be “coming home” to teach IHHS Government, Economics and mentor the award-winning Mock Trial team.
Really, it is a full-circle moment for the whole family. Benn’s wife, Michelle Metcalf, is a 1997 graduate and his two daughters, Grey (6th) and Ingrid (5th) are current IH students. “I’ve seen my kids have so much joy as they have moved through the IH district. I get to peak behind the curtain and, guess what, there is even more cool stuff behind the scenes.”
“All we are doing here is focusing on the kids, kids, kids,” he says of the educational team at IH. “Everything is about the student experience. Pinch me, I could not be more excited to be here.”
Benn will be teaching high school Economics and Government classes. He will be taking over Economics from retiring teacher John Slonim, who was his teacher. “In 1994 we started a Law Club, and Mr. Slonim was our mentor. It eventually morphed into Mock Trial and has had an incredible history of success here. I am really looking forward to reaching out to alumni and friends in the community to continue to help coach the students into more years of excellent Mock Trial experiences.“
What is a Hero Decade?
“I really like the IH Promise. I don’t like the word ‘guarantee,’ but I like Promise,” he says. He sees himself as the “Yoda” to his young student “Skywalkers.” “They all have incredible potential and its so exciting. The next decade of their life is literally the best, so much happens between 15 and 25 years of age. This is literally their hero decade. I’m here to help give them a solid foundation for their decade journey.”