M.S., Quinnipiac University
Benjamin Schloat was raised in Westchester County, New York. At the young age of four, he was introduced to his roots: a family friend began to teach him Spanish around the same time that his parents shared with him that he was adopted, and that his biological father was Mexican American. Looking back, it’s easy to see why he was drawn to becoming a Spanish teacher; but the path was not a straight one.
“I was too young to understand the significance of pursuing the learning of Spanish, but I think the older I became, the urge to connect to a background that I otherwise could not reach grew stronger,” he shared. “In the beginning, I enjoyed learning Spanish because it was something I did that my older brother didn’t; I was winning that battle.”
In the fifth grade, when his school offered an after school Spanish class, Benjamin once more embraced the opportunity. This was serendipitous as a new student arrived that year from Colombia, and Benjamin helped him with his transition to American life. He also began to volunteer during school with the ARC program. In 1992 as a high schooler, Benjamin traveled to Málaga, Spain, and lived abroad with a host family for six weeks.
At the end of high school, Benjamin was accepted to Emory University, but decided his interests were not to continue his schooling. During his senior year of high school, he joined a volunteer ambulance corps, so his career led him in the direction of becoming an EMT for the next 15 years. As an officer in the volunteer ambulance corps he directed the response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, packing an ambulance full of supplies having them delivered to the staging area in Flushing, Queens.
“These experiences fostered in me a strong sense of volunteerism, which I bring to my position as director of community service.”
He also worked on a facilities team at a local independent day school and found a position of importance translating for the Spanish-speaking cleaning crew. He enjoyed the energy of being in a school setting and found a home there.
“One day, the head of the lower school approached me and said that she needed a Spanish teacher; she had heard me speaking Spanish around school and had observed how well I got along with the students, so she thought it would be a good fit. But, her boss said they could not hire me because I did not have a college degree. That was the push I needed.”
And so, 10 years after graduating from high school, he decided to pursue my degree in Spanish and Education at Manhattan College. During his time at Manhattan, he studied Spanish language and culture abroad at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He graduated Magna Cum Laude. Armed with his degree, he was hired to teach Spanish from 5th-12th grade at the Colton Pierrepont Central School.
“When I was a teenager in Spain, all the Spanish teens wanted to know how to pick up girls in English, not how to order a Coke at a restaurant,” he joked. “So, in class, I teach to my students’ interests as well as their egos a little bit. I explain to them that if they can speak another language, they’re now interesting to a whole new group of people… and when you’re bilingual, you’re a lot more interesting than the other people in the room who are not. I aim to make it fun and something they want to do.”
In 2010, Benjamin began to see the appeal of independent schools and began to apply for jobs throughout the northeast. Among others, Avon Old Farms was on his list of interviews. He liked the all-boys environment, and like many before him, fell in love with the campus and the culture.
“When I was a boy, I attended Camp Dudley in Westport, NY. The motto of the camp is designed to teach boys to be selfless. When I visited Avon Old Farms School in the spring of 2010 I recognized the similarities in the missions of AOF and Camp Dudley.”
That year, he moved to campus to begin teaching, mentoring, and coaching. He now lives on campus with his wife, Jennifer, daughter, Aurora, and son, William.
“I love the accountability that exists at a boarding school,” he shared. “I enjoy getting to know my students outside of the classroom, and I know that if I need to follow up with someone I can find them in the Refectory or in the dorm. I have the ability to check in with them and ensure they’re doing well.”
Benjamin also shared the rewards of being a teacher: seeing the boys who get it and buy in, after originally not wanting to be in class at all.
“I teach Spanish II, where I tell boys to stick with it; try it,” he explained. “Then when they finish the class, I challenge them to take Spanish III because if they get through that, they’ll have me again for Spanish IV. I love it when those kids show up on my Spanish IV roster.”
- Benjamin is a foodie! He loves to try new foods and restaurants. He is also passionate about cooking.
- In the summer of 2020, Benjamin ran a virtual full marathon on the bike path near campus all on his own.
- He has sung at three weddings, gave a best man toast in Italian, and recited Spanish poetry at one.