Now Playing: Ms. B Stars in The Case of Staying Meaningful & Engaging

If she was starring in a British crime drama a genre she loves Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi) School 8th grade facilitator Ally Benedetti would be the plucky yet enigmatic heroine. She capably finds clues in elephants, late at night no less, that lead to her favorite pastrami sandwich shop. Or maybe she’d teleport to Ireland? 

There would probably need to be a climatic scene where she directs our tuition-free TK-12th grade school play and the pirates’ swords are missing. But! Given she’s an avid reader, would she get distracted by yet another book? 

And what if the villain masterminds know about her terror of those frightening creatures known as songbirds? The horror! 

Luckily, Ms. B as she is known to her students could depend on her math, science, AND history wits to help her. And when she says the alphabet backwards in a British accent? Well, well, old chap, consider that the biggest clue that the case is closed. 

But really, don’t mess with an 8th grade teacher. Aside from songbirds, they’re fearless. 

Please tell us about your background and how you came to be at SCVi.

I started working for iLEAD at the Agua Dulce campus in 2019. Before teaching middle school, I taught kindergarten, so the change was daunting. While working at Agua Dulce, I learned and loved project-based learning. I created fully cross-curricular projects that made the curriculum more interesting and meaningful. In 2022, I was given the opportunity to transfer to the SCVi site and take on a bigger leadership role. I became the 8th grade team lead, the middle school liaison, the test site coordinator, and the lower school theatre director. This year I teach science and history and am also responsible for half of the math curriculum.

What do you love about SCVi?  What sets it apart from other schools?

I really love that I can get to know each and every one of my learners on a personal level. I am encouraged to create curriculum that not only meets the standards, but also involves their interests and has real-world application. The learners that are excelling can be given opportunities to push themselves and soar. The learners that need more time are also given the support necessary for understanding and growth. This sets us apart because we really do focus on the learners’ needs.

I also really love the team that I get to work with every day. I have a wonderful teaching partner and middle school team that collaborate to ensure that we are truly supporting each other and our learners. This is different from many other schools. You may have a grade-level partner or a subject partner that you collaborate with at times, but here collaboration extends to the whole school.

What’s the best part about your role at SCVi? What’s the biggest challenge?

The best part and the biggest challenge are the same. We get to create our projects. I have a great affinity for project-based learning and feel that creating cross-curricular enriched projects is something I excel at. The challenge lies in not becoming complacent with the projects and making sure to update articles and assignments for relevancy to the time and the learners. 

What other activities are you involved with at SCVi?

I am the lower school theatre director. We have two productions a year — one is a play and the other a musical. I am looking forward to this spring’s production of “Treasure Island.” Who doesn’t want to be a pirate?

There are great social-emotional learning activities at SCVi — can you share what you do in your classroom?

We have advisory every morning. Some mornings we have circles and some are more loose and team building, but ultimately the goal is to create a community of people that care and respect each other so all feel safe and accepted. 

One of the topics that we brought up back in August was how we can be leaders on campus. The answer for ten of my learners was to start a cleanup crew. Every day (two groups switching days) after the last break, they take five minutes to clean up all of the trash left in the yard and pick up any lost and found items. 

Another way is to acknowledge when we do something wrong and consider how we can make it right. In order to help facilitate ownership of our actions, we created a Google Form where learners can at any time click on the link and fill out their reflection form. It takes them through the beginning of the restorative process, where their last question asks, “What can you do or what needs to be done to make it right?” Having this form has allowed our learners to come forward when something has happened that we weren’t around for and starts their process for thinking about the actions they could have taken instead and repairing relationships. 

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Mrs. Rice in 5th grade. It was a hard year for me. My parents separated, then divorced, and my sister was sent away. No one outside of my house knew, but Mrs. Rice took the time to figure out why I had stopped talking and encouraged me to draw. I will forever be grateful to her. 

In your opinion, what makes a great leader? How do you teach leadership?

That’s a good question. A leader is someone that inspires others to follow. Someone who supports their team and gives them the tools to excel. Someone who knows that others’ success is good for everyone; it doesn’t take anything away from you. As a leader, sometimes it means standing in the back and helping those that struggle and being encouraging while others finish first. I think the best way to teach leadership is to be a good example of what it is and then to give opportunities to others in leadership.

Seven fun facts about Ms. B:

  1. My favorite animal is an elephant. If I could have one as a pet I would somehow figure out how to pay for their care. I have over 350 items with elephants on them or in the shape of an elephant.  
  2. I have gone back to school this year for my master’s in history with an emphasis in education. I am halfway finished with my degree and will hopefully have my single-subject credential in history. After I complete it, I am looking into doing the same, but for science. 
  3. I read a lot. I read at least 50 new books each year — this year I am reading more textbooks than anything. I’m a night owl, though, and if I am not careful my energy will soar at 9 PM and then I will be up until 2 AM. 
  4. I love crime shows. Almost all detective shows are interesting to me, but I especially like British crime dramas. (See also favorite podcast: Moriarty: The Silent Order) 
  5. Scariest animal? Birds, tiny little tweet tweets, not birds of prey… terrifying. 
  6. If I could travel anywhere it would be Ireland. 
  7. Secret talent? I can say the alphabet backwards.

Passionate teachers like Ms. B are what make SCVi such a dynamic and engaging TK-12th grade school. We’re tuition-free and enrolling now!

About SCVi:
Santa Clarita Valley International School (SCVi) is a free public charter school empowering TK-12th graders to become conscientious, compassionate, and responsible citizens of the world. We use project-based and social-emotional learning concepts to inspire and motivate lifelong learners with the skills they need to lead in the 21st century. We incorporate technology into every component of our curriculum, and we value and encourage development of leadership skills by inspiring confidence and character in each of our unique learners. Join our innovative school today!