Local educator, Shaun Bennett shares why he's passionate about public education


Last year was my first year teaching in the public schools. It was very overwhelming walking into a classroom that had so few resources for me to meet the needs of my curriculum. Music had not been fulltime at my elementary school for many years. I had to go out on my own to create projects on both PowerUP Jax and Donorschoose.org. My school administration has been very supportive and has encouraged me to build the program up from scratch. Their support has allowed me to be creative in raising funds for my program. Rather than get frustrated with my situation, I began formulating solutions to update my classroom.  I started using PowerUP Jax and Donorschoose.org to acquire musical instruments to better serve my students. I created 4 projects on Donorschoose.org and have raised around $4,492 so far to purchase 12 Orff instruments for my classroom. I'm currently working on a new project to raise money for some African Hand Drums on Donorschoose.org and some Metallophones on the PowerUP Jax website.

In the classroom my textbooks are the same books that were used when I was in elementary school 20 years ago.  I've taken all of my audio and uploaded it to my computer to create playlists to minimize chaos during classroom transitions.  I spent much of the first week of preplanning uploading around 100 or so CDs onto my computer.  I'm putting much of my song activities and lessons into Powerpoint to modernize my material that I have and linking audio files.  A creative mind can formulate an innovative solution to meet the needs of students, using what is already there in a new way.

My school has a legacy and a ton of history. I learn so much from old material and work to modernize the ideas in my instructional design. My school received a $100 donation from the Mary L'Engle trust through the late Carolyn Day Pfohl. Mrs. Pfohl, was the former arts administrator for Duval County during a long part of her career in Arts Administration. Her legacy and her passion for the arts really inspired me as a new teacher.

People in my family whom inspire me in the field of education include my late grandfather, and my older sister. Both of whom have served in education. My grandfather served as a vocational education in Florida for many decades of his life at what is now First Coast Technical Institute. He taught diesel mechanics and criminal justice courses in the police academy.  My older sister was teacher of the year for St. John's County last year and among the top 5 finalists in the State of Florida. Both my grandfather and my sister are why I am in education. I love what I do, and the fact that I get to share what I love with students every day makes my job less like work and more like a career. 


Shaun Bennett

Shaun Bennett,

Music Teacher at Oretga Elementary 

2015 Innovation in Education Award semi-finalist




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.