For Eric Benson, transforming student lives has had different meanings over his 38 years as a physical education teacher at Bishop Arts Steam Academy. Several of his former students are now leading life-changing careers of their own, including Diana Nunez, a proud Dallas ISD graduate who has spent over two decades working as a teacher, principal and executive director in the district.
Benson and Nunez first met when Nunez was in sixth grade, but their connection did not stop when she transitioned into seventh grade. Nunez was followed in school by her younger brother and sisters, so Benson spent another eight years getting to know her family through the students in his class. As the siblings grew older, they began inviting their old coach to their graduations and some even to their weddings.
After working as a teacher herself, Nunez has a new appreciation for everything Benson did for her family and still does for so many students. He always went above and beyond to ensure his students could participate in different sports and stepped up to lead after-school leagues, she said.
“All these years later, he is still making sure there are great opportunities for his students,” Nunez said. “Teachers go through hundreds of students, so the fact that teachers like Coach Benson still try to make those connections and show up and go to events, it’s so special.”
The two of them have stayed in touch by running into each other over the years at district events, but they have also maintained a positive personal connection. For example, Benson drives by Nunez’s parents’ house every day on his way home from work and makes sure to stop and say hello.
“This Is Home has a different meaning for those of us who have been with the district for a long time,” Nunez agreed. “Throughout the years, Coach Benson has always been very supportive of my family. When we invited him, he would show up every time. I’m really thankful for that.”