Lauren Hannani staff writer
Whether he was the physical education teacher, assistant principal or principal, Ben Bushman dedicated a great amount of his time trying to make school worthwhile for both students and teachers. On Nov. 13, Bushman died after working in the district for 38 years, but his contributions to the school and the community still live on.
Bushman first started his job in the district as a football coach, and later became an assistant principal for nine years before taking on the position of principal. After that, Bushman did everything he could to make a positive difference for the district, and many teachers believe he was successful.
“He went above and beyond, and people knew that. They knew he wasn’t just doing it to score points with anybody. He really did have a high sense of commitment to being principal and to running this school, and I admired that,” chemistry teacher Chris Bushee said. “Mr. Bushman was well-known, and you knew that he was in it for the long haul, and he really poured his heart and soul into the school and into his job.”
The former principal also made sure the school he ran was always growing and improving as a result of the friendly atmosphere he tried to create among everyone.
“The best thing about Ben was he knew how to surround himself with the expertise of the people around him so that it wasn’t all about him as a principal, but it was about being able to rally the right people that were the best at what they did so they could really let this school shine. And not only the school, but the community,” art teacher Michael Federman said. “That was what always struck me…He was never about the micromanaging. He really knew how to create an atmosphere of a team and a family.”
Although he picked valuable staff members who cared deeply about the wellbeing of students, Bushman did not leave teachers with all of the work. In fact, he came to school early or stayed late to make sure everything was under control and everyone was happy.
“In the winter time when the rooms were really cold, he would come around to the rooms and put heaters in all of them, and would get here early in the morning and go around to make sure all the students and teachers were comfortable,” Bushee said. “He’d occasionally pop his head in my class and go ‘Hey Chris, is there anything that you need? Anything I can do to help you?’ And so, you know, it’s those sort of interactions I remember.”
This was not the only time Bushman helped out the school outside of his office.
“He was always willing to get into the trenches and do the hard work,” Federman said. “I remember coming in during the weekends to get work or grading done, and I would see him out here powerwashing the quad just to make sure everything was clean. On a weekend. And he did that multiple times… He would literally be helping out the custodial staff.”
In fact, cleaning the school and creating a nice environment was one of the specialties, and his dedication to it made him stand out as an administrator.
“My fondest memory of him was of his consistent insistence on school cleanliness, and I remember him going around the halls, entrances and lawns with a trash can,” history teacher Marian Strauss said. “He was always encouraging, getting students to pick up their trash and throw it into the trash can. The school was a nice, clean and orderly environment for all of us due to these efforts.”
No matter what he was doing, Bushman seemed to complete the task with an admirable sense of compassion and determination, and in this way, he left his mark on the school, the district and the community as a whole.