Jeff Benner

Principal Leader, Secondary; former principal at Hagersville Secondary School; Cayuga Secondary School grad

You Belong Here features Grand Erie leaders who were once Grand Erie learners. It’s a then-and-now look at the lessons in learning, well-being and belonging that shaped their school experiences and continue to inspire them today.

Jeff Benner is the Principal Leader for Secondary, the former principal at Hagersville Secondary School and a Cayuga Secondary School grad

Tell us about your secondary school experience… in what ways did it allow you to become the leader you are today?
YouBelong_Benner01.jpgI was the student who wanted to try everything. Athletics (with limited success), the arts (with some success), and student leadership (which became my passion). The staff, students and community provided the opportunities for me to grow as a leader and to form strong friendships. I will never forget the countless volunteer hours that the staff at Cayuga Secondary School (CSS) put into making our time productive and fun. .
What were the popular trends when you were in secondary school?
It was a transition between the grunge rock time of the early to mid-90s and the pop explosion in the late nineties in terms of music. There was lots of flannel and windbreakers, everyone wore jeans, all the time. Ally McBeal, The Practice, ER, Law and Order and The Simpsons were all in their prime.
What’s it like being a leader in the same board where you were once a student?


It's a real honour to be able to feel like I'm contributing to the system that helped shape who I am now. It brings to focus the privilege we have as leaders and educators in shaping the future of Grand Erie. Having spent a lot of my career in Haldimand schools before my current role has been great in terms of reconnecting with former classmates. In my role now, it has been a real pleasure to see just how many secondary school classmates support Grand Erie centrally.
What made/makes your school community special (both where you attended as a student and where you are now)?


It was the staff at CSS that were the best, some of whom I've have the privilege to work with as an educator. They were the ones who really encouraged me to get involved in the arts, in student leadership and athletics. They made it a safe space for me to discover my interests, develop my personal leadership skills and encourage me to take risks. They helped me to form friendships while giving me the academic skills to succeed. CSS was and is a community, and it's how it changes from year to year that makes it special. 
What does ‘Learn Lead Inspire’ mean to you?
Learn Lead Inspire is a call to action. A call to have a growth mindset. A call to develop and guide our students and staff with a sense of kindness and empathy. And a call to inspire and support those we work with to reach their own personal goals.

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