That belief sums up why Bennett, a counselor at River Ridge High School, was chosen the 2012 Cherokee County Counselor of the Year.
Bennett was surprised with an award ceremony and reception in his honor Tuesday for being recognized.
Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo presented Bennett with a plaque during the ceremony in the school’s auditorium, which was attended by district and high school administrators, Bennett’s parents Joe and Martha Bennett of Canton and students in Bennett’s annual Leadership Quest program.
“Mr. Bennett isn’t looking for the credit — he’s looking for you to be as successful as you can be,” Petruzielo said to the students. “He’s here for you. … What he wants is to see that smile on your face and see you headed in the right direction.”
Bennett qualified for the award by being nominated as the Counselor of the Year for the River Ridge Zone, which includes the high school and its feeder middle school and elementary schools.
A panel of veteran educators selected Bennett as the Cherokee County Counselor of the Year from the six eligible Zone winners. He will go on to compete for the Georgia Counselor of the Year honor, which will be presented this summer.
Bennett, a lifelong Canton resident, said he was surprised by the award, especially after he saw the names of the other winning counselors.
“I think so highly of all of them,” he said. “I never counted myself in the caliber of those others.”
Bennett said he makes a conscious effort to be available to his students in a variety of ways. He is responsible for creating many new programs at River Ridge, such as the “Crusading Knights,” for building student character and bully prevention; and the “Knightly Quest for Lifelong Success” evening speaker series for students and parents on college and career choices.
He is also the voice of the River Ridge Knights, as he serves as announcer for football, basketball, soccer and lacrosse events.
“I can’t talk to (my students) about getting involved if I’m not out there modeling it to them,” he said.
Principal B. Darrell Herring said Bennett is deserving of the honor.
“It gives him a chance to showcase what he’s done for our kids here at River Ridge,” Herring said.
Herring noted that Bennett is always upbeat and positive in all that he does at the school.
“That kind of attitude is catching for teachers, kids, parents and even myself,” he said.
Bennett told students at the event that everything he does is for them.
“I come to school every day because I love what I do,” Bennett said. “I do it all for you.”
Bennett was a counselor at Etowah High School for 13 years before he served as the first (and for two years, the only) counselor at River Ridge since 2009. He holds three bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees and a specialist degree in guidance and counseling from Georgia State University.
He is also a board member of Cherokee Theater Company, which he helped found 25 years ago.