A coffee with Peter Bennett

Today, we want to introduce you to Peter Bennett. Peter is originally from Melbourne (Australia) and joined StGIS eleven years ago as a teacher of Economics & English. Beforehand, he taught in different private schools in his home country and Germany. As an active member of our community, he launched the StGIS Service Day (now known as Community Day), which he organised for six years and during which our students engage for one to two days in community services in St. Gilgen. Today, he is the Head of our English department. In his spare time, Peter is passionate about road cycling and snow sports.

Peter, how do you integrate your hobbies into your daily life?
When the weather is good, I start my day with a cycling tour from my hometown Bad Ischl to the school in St. Gilgen. At the school, I am one of the staff who runs the mountain biking club, where we just kicked off a new indoor cycling activity for the students.  Also, during the weekend, I am a mountain biking coach, instructor as well as mechanic. Of course, I try to do a lot of outdoor activities in my spare time.
Can you tell us more about the new activity that you offer to our students?
The conditions for outdoor cycling are pretty good for almost all the year. But as there are some days where it is inconvenient to practice outside, we were searching for an alternative for our students. Finally, we transformed some bikes with special equipment into spinning bikes. We placed them into our boathouse where our mountain biking club can now also take place when it is too windy, snowy, or icy outside. So far, the feedback of our students is very good. Every Wednesday afternoon we gather there to practice together.
What do you want to convey to the students by sharing your passion?
Generally, I try to share my passion with the students in a way that is infectious as I believe that with the right support, the students can reach goals they would think they cannot achieve on their own. Thus, I try to offer positive influences and be the mentor as well as the role model that I wish I would have if I was them. Outdoor cycling can be a fulfilling, genuine action through which the students can learn what they are capable of. On the one hand, the students develop a great team spirit. On the other hand, they will learn that there is no failure and that they can gain even if they don’t get the result they were looking for. This applies to the classroom as well as to the mountains, but when it is cold, hot, or muddy outside, it is easier for me to tell if the students are really having a good time.
Do you have a life motto?
You are better than you think you are!
What is your favorite place at StGIS and why?
It depends on the time of the year but when the weather is good, my favorite place is the orchard behind the library. I like working quietly in its shade in the summer without distractions. There is something wise about the old fruit trees that fascinates me.
What makes StGIS special for you?
Being one of the longer-serving teachers at the school, I feel a sense of belonging and identity that I haven’t felt anywhere else. When I started, we had only 80 students, and today around 220. It is also a sense of growing together.

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