Elected to the Georgetown ISD board of trustees in May 2021, Dr. Stephen Benold is the third member of his immediate family to serve on the school board as his father, Dr. Douglas Benold, and his wife, Nancy Benold, preceded him. He followed in his father’s footsteps in other ways, including working as a family medicine doctor in the Georgetown community.

The original Benold Middle School, located at 3407 Northwest Blvd., Georgetown, was named for Douglas in 1994 after he helped the district quickly integrate during the 1960s. He died in February, and the district held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the upcoming rebuilt Benold Middle School in April.

Community Impact spoke with Stephen about his family’s impact on public education in Georgetown. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you run for the school board?

I was pretty unaware of what was going on in the school system. I assumed like a lot of people that everything was just fine.

My book club read a book by E.D. Hirsch on how to educate a citizen. In that book, he talked about the importance of having an aligned curriculum. When discussing it, we said, “Well, how are our schools doing academically, and is our curriculum aligned?” Several people who are much more expert on this than I am noted that our test scores had been going downhill rather steadily for about eight years and that by 2018, we were below the state average.

So I really was not eager to be on the school board, but several people encouraged me to run. My objective was to improve the academics and the academic achievement of students.

Tell me about your career outside of being on the school board.

It had nothing to do with formal education. I decided in junior high school that I was going to go to medical school, and I was going to be a family physician like my father, and that I would come back to Georgetown and practice with my father.

After practicing for 28 years, I realized that I wanted to keep working, but I didn’t want to keep working as hard as a family physician worked. I had always been interested in money and finance. So I decided that I wasn’t going to retire; I was going to recareer. I became a certified financial planner. I opened that practice in 2005, so I’ve been doing that for 18 years.

Tell me about your father’s impact on the school district.

My father, of course, was a very busy practicing family physician, which he dearly loved. That was the most important thing in the world to him. But it was also in his beliefs and philosophies that racism was wrong.

About this time, it was also the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States, and [GISD’s] school board was very segregationist. Our African American school was literally falling apart. The school board was being challenged in court to integrate the schools, but they resisted this and decided to build another segregated school, which is Carver [Elementary School]. That was built in 1964.

After that, a group of citizens organized and said we have got to elect some people to the school board that will integrate our schools and drop the lawsuits. So that was the reason he ran for the school board—to finish integrating the schools.

Actually, the year before he ran, the school district integrated one grade per year. That would have taken 12 years to integrate the school district. So my senior year in high school, which was 1966-67, our senior class was integrated. After my father ... [was] elected in May of 1967, then the next school year they integrated the entire school district. He was very instrumental in integrating the schools. That was a large reason, I think, that Benold Middle School was named after him.

Later your wife also served on the school board, correct?

Yes, my wife was on the school board from 1989-2001. She said that her experience on the school board was very, very different than my father’s, which had been very tense and contentious. Hers was just the school board all got along with each other. She had the same superintendent the whole 12 years she was on the school board. By and large, she wanted to be on the school board because our children were in the public schools, and so she had a real vested interest in the schools.

What was it like to sit at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Benold Middle School?

It stirs up a lot of emotion because I remember very well 30 years ago when old Benold was dedicated and how special that day was to my dad. I was so pleased that the school district decided to carry on the name to the new school. They certainly didn’t have to have to do that.
Bearing the family name

Benold Middle School, named after Dr. Douglas Benold, was dedicated in 1994, Dr. Stephen Benold said. Nearly 30 years later, the district held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Benold Middle School at 1401 N. Parmer Ranch Blvd., Georgetown. Located near Ronald Reagan Boulevard and RM 2338 in the Parmer Ranch neighborhood, the new school will open ahead of the 2024-25 school year.

Family legacy

Georgetown ISD Trustee Dr. Stephen Benold said his family has been involved in the Georgetown community in many ways, including serving on the school board. Both his father and wife previously held seats on the GISD board of trustees.