Jessica Benitez earned the STAR student honor for this year and has selected Rebecca King as her STAR teacher.
Benitez scored 1,470 of a possible 1,600 score on the SAT. The STAR student is chosen annually based on academic excellence and attaining the highest SAT score among the senior class.
Benitez is the daughter of Juan and Sosa Benitez. She has three older siblings, including fellow PCHS alumnus Arturo Lara.
She is involved in broadcasting with the Audio Visual Club at PCHS and is a former member of the Beta Club. She has finished second in the state and is a two-time region winner in the Tech Fair competing in digital photo production.
Benitez hopes to attend the University of Georgia and major in history or history education. She is currently ranked 19th of the 249 seniors in her class.
Benitez is “an excellent student” and “shines in many ways,” says her STAR teacher.
“Jessica needs very little practice. She can grasp concepts after one or two examples and makes connections and applies and transfers that knowledge to other problems. She has a unique way of solving problems,” King says.
Benitez is sharp and well rounded across the curriculum.
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“She won’t stop until she gets the answer,” she said.
Fellow teachers who have Benitez in their class say the same thing.
“The tech fair entries she has submitted she came up with in 10 minutes. Her English and Literature teachers say they look forward to reading her essays,” King says. “That is saying something.”
It is the third time in four years King has been selected as STAR teacher.
King taught Benitez honors pre-calculus and college level courses in algebra, pre-calculus and calculus.
Benitez says she selected King because of the gift she has for teaching.
“She has a good routine in class and an easy lecture style. Her class is just the right pace in explaining what we are doing and how we are to do it,” says Benitez.
King is very accessible and always willing to help her students.
“She is very approachable. She stresses that we are to ask for help when we need it,” Benitez says.
King has been in the classroom for a total of 30 years, both at the high school and at Waycross College/South Georgia State College. She also took time off to be a stay-at-home mom and home-school teacher for a number of years.
She and her husband, the Rev. Tim King, have two children, Maggie, 22, and Joseph, 20. The family is active at Victory Baptist Church in Folkston.
She is an alumnus of Pierce County High School, graduating in 1985. She earned her associate’s degree from Waycross College (now South Georgia State College) in 1987 and her bachelor’s degree in both mathematics and secondary education from Valdosta State University in 1989. She also earned a master’s degree in 1991, has done some work on a six year degree and is currently working on her gifted certification.
King says she feels honored to be selected STAR teacher.
“It is just such an honor and I am so humbled by it,” she said. “I know many teachers never get this kind of honor over their entire career and it makes me proud to be a teacher. It is affirmation that I am doing something right. It reinforces the calling of teaching. I love helping students and especially helping them prepare for the SAT and ACT."