Professional Achievement Award 2017
Richard Benz, '73
Science Education Curriculum Advisor, Lake Metroparks
Retired Science Teacher
Bachelor Of Science in Biology
"I pass on a passion for science and teaching and a love for the natural world. As an education consultant for Lake Metroparks, I continue to work with people and school systems to “pass the torch” of excitement for learning and the passion for science."
If you walked into Richard Benz’s high school classroom you would see a six-foot aquarium swarming with turtles, an enormous inflatable Killer Whale, a three-foot lobster, student-made cells and atoms all hanging from the ceiling. This is all part of the Benz’s creation of the world of science.
“I did this for thousands of high school students over a period of 34 years at Wickliffe High School—my own high school alma mater. I have continued this for 10 years since my retirement as a teacher of teachers and nature programmers,” Benz says.
As a high school teacher, Benz taught all levels of biology including AP Biology, Honors Biology and General Biology along with Earth Science, Science Research and photography for 34 years. Mr. Benz was also the Science Department chairman, Media Director and a Technology Consultant.
Benz is currently the Science Education Curriculum Advisor for Lake Metroparks and continues to impact teachers and school systems.
Benz’s list of professional accomplishments is impressive. Benz was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding Biology Teacher in 1996, named as the top science teacher in Ohio by the Ohio Academy of Science (The Battelle Award) in 1987 and by the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation in 2004. He was the 1990 Presidential Awardee in Science Education for Ohio and selected as a Tandy Technology Scholar in March 1991. He is also proud to be named the Milken Educator for the State of Ohio and a Disney American Teacher Awardee in 1993. He is a founding member of the Cleveland Regional Association of Biologists.
Benz credits his Kent State experiences for his successful career. “The education gave me the skills I needed to teach biology but more importantly, the stories, excitement and style of my professors molded me into the teacher I became. Wherever I traveled to teach—my own high school, regional teacher workshops or global professional development seminars, I was a Kent State product through and through.”
Benz resides in Concord, Ohio with his wife Betsy, and Captain Fitzroy, their orange tabby. They have two daughters, Katherine and Megan and two grandchildren, Madeline and Duke. Betsy and Rich travel frequently to Maine and enjoy voyages on schooners and kayaks alike.