By Christina Calloway
After being in education for 28 years, there isn’t much that can shock Floyd Municipal Schools Superintendent Paul Benoit, but last week he received in honor that surprised him.
It’s not likely Benoit will wear a sash to let people know he was selected New Mexico’s Superintendent of the Year by the New Mexico School Superintendents Association, but it’s an honor he’s proud of and an award his peers deemed him worthy of.
“It was just a real honor to be recognized by my peers,” said Benoit, who has been Floyd superintendent going on 10 years.
Benoit said nominations can come from school staff or from members of the NMSSA, of which he has been part of for 11 years and has just finished his year as president of the association.
“I was waiting for them to read one of the names of the other nominees,” Benoit said. “I was just humbled looking out at the quality of people in the room. Many of them are deserving of the award.”
Benoit’s best friend and Dora schools Superintendent Steve
Barron was one of the people who nominated Benoit for the award.
Barron said he knew Benoit had won before it was announced and had a hard time keeping it a secret.
“He’s a great guy, he done a lot of hard work,” Barron said.
Barron said Benoit had taken his role as NMSSA president “very seriously” and was accessible to assist his superintendent colleagues with issues that impact individual districts throughout the state.
“(Benoit) has dedicated many hours during the legislative session to advocate for students throughout New Mexico in an objective, respectful manner,” Barron said.
Benoit came to New Mexico in 1983 to attend college. He initially received a degree in psychology, but loved the aspect of interacting with people through education.
“I enjoyed teaching and engaging with people and watching them learn,” Benoit said.
Benoit has fallen in love with the Floyd community and has become involved with its growth beyond his role in the schools through his church and the Floyd Lions Club. He’s also a Roosevelt General Hospital board member.
“Every year at graduation is the highlight of my year to watch their success,” said Benoit of his students. “I think my grandest accomplishment is maintaining and increasing the sense of pride and community in the school.”
Working in a small community, Benoit said he’s much more invested in the future of his students because he often sees them outside of the eight-hour school day.
“When I step out of my office there’s not a moment I don’t see a teacher or child,” Benoit said. “It’s an experience you just can’t trade, to be intimate with the community where you’re growing kids.”
Benoit said he’s looking forward to representing New Mexico at the national conference of superintendents and is excited to network with the nation’s superintendents.
He’ll also continue to serve and engage with the NMSSA leadership and the state Public Education Department in his role.
“I’m trying to impact policy and legislation but my primary commitment remains Floyd,” Benoit said. “I’m happy to have a school board that is Floyd.”