Five minutes with new social studies teacher Dr. Lee Benjamins

Jet Miller '24, Staff Writer

Starting anew anywhere is difficult, especially for a teacher in the middle of the school year. However, social studies teacher Lee Benjamins is taking the opportunity in stride as he settles into his position.

Prior to South, Benjamins has steadily constructed a wide resume, including several other teaching positions at both the college and high school level as well as a position as Assistant Director of Social Studies for the entire state of Texas. That being said, Benjamins’ move to Grosse Pointe is more than just a new challenge– for him and his family, it’s a little more personal.

“My wife grew up here,” Benjamins said. “Her family had lived here for 43 years over in the Woods. She graduated from North. Don’t hold that against me.”

Although Benjamins’ transition to Grosse Pointe has been made easier by the family connections he has to the area and his decades of teaching experience, his position at South is his first in-person job since the pandemic.

“Like everybody in the pandemic, (I) was teaching classes online for a couple of years,” Benjamins said. “And then when we moved here, I continued teaching online classes part time for a couple of schools in Texas, the University of Houston, and the University of Houston downtown.”

As for the content of the classes Benjamins taught, he mainly focused on American history, specifically, the study of abolition.

“I’ve taught AP US History, AP government, (and) AP world history, but I’ve taught AP US History the most,” Benjamins said. “So my doctorates in 19th century US History focused on slavery and abolition.”

Given his passion and years of dedication to teaching, it would be easily assumed that Benjamins has always wanted to pursue a career in education, but that is not actually the case.

“In college I started out in engineering,” Benjamins said. “And (I) realized that I didn’t know really what a lot of engineers did.”

In the end, Benjamins ended up switching his major and pursuing a career as a teacher, swayed by his personal love for history and an extensive family legacy.

“I loved history in school,” Benjamins said. “I lean towards teaching because a lot of my uncles and aunts and cousins teach, so it’s just kind of a family profession now.”

Although Benjamins holds a deep reverence for the subjects he teaches, he is a man of many interests, and in his spare time can be found anywhere from a Foo Fighters concert to the middle of Texas on a 150 mile cycling expedition.

“Aside from seeing live shows, I ran competitively in college, so I like to run and cycle when I can,” Benjamins said. “It’s something my wife and I actually do. We did a cycling (trip) raising money for MS called the MS 150 in Texas where we (rode) from Houstin to Austin.”