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PTO Scholarship Supports Ben-Hem Alumni in Memory of Jackie Searle

posted Feb 1, 2014, 10:04 AM by Kristina Fernandes

Feature Article published in September 2013 Newsletter

Each year, the Bennett-Hemenway PTO sponsors the Jacquelin Searle Memorial Scholarship as a way to continue to support our students even after they have left and Ben-Hem.  The scholarship is awarded to a Natick High School student who attended Bennett-Hemenway Elementary School and is going on to higher education.  Applicants are asked to submit an essay with the following idea in mind: "Service to others is a value to be celebrated and each one of us can make a difference."

For the 2012-2013 school year, the Jacquelin Searle Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Casey Kelly (Ben-Hem Class of 2005).  Casey wrote a great essay about her experience with service work, as part of her Girl Scout troop growing up, and the impact that random acts of kindness had on people after the tragedy faced by a Connecticut elementary school last year.  At one point in her essay, Casey stated, "My community has been a very positive influence on me, and so I have done my best to give back as much as possible."  This is certainly an attitude worth rewarding.

But who is Jacquelin Searle?  After speaking with several Ben-Hem parents, it was discovered that very few people are aware that the PTO sponsors a scholarship and even fewer still know who Jacquelin Searle was.

Jacquelin (Jackie) S

earle was a first grade teacher at Bennett-Hemenway for more than twenty years.  She grew up in South Natick and got her teaching degree in Framingham.  Jackie was a child of the 60's and was very involved in civil rights.  According to Mr. Stuart Peskin, former Ben-Hem principal, Jackie believed that every child has value, and every child is deserving.  It is no surprise then that parents loved her.

Current fourth grade teacher, Ms. Cate O'Brien, remembers Jackie as being very kind and gentle.  "She taught students how to respect each other," she said. 

One thing that stuck out in Ms. O'Brien's memory was that each year Jackie would have students make civil rights signs and march around the school for Martin Luther King day.  Mr. Peskin said that he felt her focus on civil rights "made her a better teacher".

One of Jackie's favorite sayings was "It's not a problem, it's a solution that we haven't found yet."  Mr. Peskin stated that this was an attitude that was adopted by the entire school, and was (and is still) what makes Bennett-Hemenway such a great place to teach and learn.

Because of the impact that she had on the Bennett-Hemenway community, the school and PTO wanted to ensure she was remembered by all for years to come.  If you visit the school library, you will find a memorial containing pictures and articles about Jackie.  It sits next to a picture of Mahatma Gandhi, which represents the peaceful nature with which Jackie lead her life and taught her students.

To find out more about the Bennett-Hemenway Jacqueline Searle Memorial Scholarship and read Casey Kelly's essay, visit the Educational Enrichment website:

http://www.benhempto.org/getinvolved/enrichment
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