October 20, 2018
School & Youth
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Richard Benfer Completes Term As Teacher’s Association President

Ian Weiner
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June 27, 2018

For the last six years, Severna Park resident Richard Benfer has advocated on behalf of teachers and students as president of the Teacher’s Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC). On July 31, Benfer will head back to the classroom since term limits require that he step down from the position.

TAAAC is an organization that supports members in their efforts to provide a quality education for students in the county. It advocates for teachers’ rights, working alongside the Maryland State Education Association and National Education Association. TAAAC has approximately 6,200 members.

Benfer originally became involved with TAAAC as a representative for Fort Smallwood Elementary School. He would bring issues his colleagues were having and problems with the building to the administration, and together they would work to find solutions. Advocating teacher rights and responsibilities is something that Benfer enjoyed, leading him to continue with his involvement with TAAAC.

“A lot of teachers don’t like to mix politics with their teaching, but unfortunately, that’s part of it,” Benfer said. “That became a passion, working with the legislators in Annapolis, the county council and Board of Education.”

Beyond the classroom, Benfer tries to make a difference in students’ lives as well. He is an advocate on behalf of not only the teachers in Anne Arundel County but also underprivileged students.

“It has been a mission of mine to let people know that schools don’t function without people,” Benfer said. “When we have kids coming in front of us; some of them come broke, with trauma. They’re human. You can’t discard them and start fresh.”

Benfer has also helped create numerous advancements within TAAAC during his time as president. One of these is the Celebrate Educators picnic at Sandy Point State Park. The picnic aims to bring teachers together for networking and fun. The organization is preparing for its fifth picnic.

In addition, TAAAC sponsors a legislators breakfast in January. Representatives and legislators participate in a short program in which they discuss ongoing issues. There is an open discussion platform, and representatives decide which candidates they want to endorse in any upcoming election.

“We’re out there trying to get our education-friendly representatives elected so we can fix our funding issues within Anne Arundel County,” Benfer said.

However, Benfer’s advocacy goes beyond the Anne Arundel County Public Schools system. He has served on the Maryland State Education Association Human and Civil Rights Committee and Instructional Development Committee. Benfer served on the MSEA board at the same time he was the president of TAAAC.

“We worked together on the Protect Our Schools Act last year, and Fix the Fund this year,” Benfer said.

Benfer sees a bright future for TAAAC, as the organization continues to grow and the county’s student population grows simultaneously.

“The strength that our association has is in its numbers,” Benfer said. “We try to encourage members to get involved with many different activities, which helps the association and them in their job. I see us growing and being strong.”

Next fall, Benfer will serve as a Right Start advisor. He will join a team of mentors that guides new teachers through their first year.

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