Longtime St. Michael-Albertville High School assistant varsity football coach and mathematics teacher, Keith Cornell, will soon be stepping into his new role as the high school’s Activities Director. He will take over for Brian Benson, who announced his plan to retire last winter. However, that plan didn’t last long.
“I was retired for five days,” Benson joked.
Though he will hang up his Activities Director Hat, Benson will step into a one-year position as the high school’s Director on Special Assignment. This position takes over some of Principal Bob Driver’s duties while Driver spends .5 of his time coordinating bond projects next year.
Benson spent seven years in his role as the high school’s Activities Director, and he has also worked in the district as coordinator for the Knight’s Academy Learning Program.
“I chose to retire because I could, and I wanted something new and different in my professional life,” Benson said. “But I love working here and I love my job. So when [Superintendent] Ann-Marie approached me and asked if I’d consider the Director on Special Assignment position, it was new, different and challenging. And the new, different challenge was right here in the St. Michael-Albertville School District. It’s awesome that I get to do that.”
Meanwhile, Cornell is also excited for his new position as Activities Director, which he officially begins on July 1.
“My dad was a band and choir director for 38 years, so I’ve always been interested in student activities and students being involved in a wide variety of activities,” Cornell said. “I think activities are an extension of the classroom.”
He has been a high school math teacher in STMA for 17 years now, has coached football for 16 years and coached tennis for 8-9 years. Cornell obtained his administrative license nine years ago, but he has been waiting for the right opportunity to come around. In the meantime, he has dug deeper into STMA events and activities by working as the district’s events coordinator for the past two years, where he scheduled table workers, ticket takers and supervised events.
“I love St. Michael-Albertville,” he said. “I have three children in the school system and my wife and I live in town, and I always wanted to stay part of these communities. So I’ve had my administrative license for a while, but I didn’t really look too much.”
Cornell said he came from a high school with 29 students in his graduating class, so he was able to participate in a wide spectrum of sports, fine arts and student leadership activities when he was a student. He said he wants to help make the high school feel small for STMA’s students, despite how much the student population has grown, and try to find as many different opportunities for kids to get involved as possible.
“We’ll continue to try and do that the best we can, while we continually see more kids in the district every year,” he said.