Lynbrook High School business teacher Dr. Benedict Tieniber is showing the class of 2020 how much he cares for them, one mile at a time.
In an effort he began on May 5, Tieniber will run 203 miles by June 4 in honor of the 203 seniors in this year’s LHS graduating class, who lost two-fifths of their senior year because of the coronavirus pandemic. As of May 21, he had run 92.2 miles and had 110.8 more to complete, with two weeks remaining.
“I was trying to figure out a way to honor the class of 2020 for their achievements since Covid-19 stripped so much of their senior year away,” Tieniber explained. “I was running one day in late April and thought, why not run in honor of the seniors of Lynbrook High School? I reached out to guidance to find out how many seniors [we] had, and that’s how I came up with 203 miles to run in one month.”
Tieniber, 36, has taught at LHS for three years. His classes include virtual enterprise, accounting and senior seminar, and he has sophomores, juniors and seniors. He also advises the Key Club and coaches the middle school baseball and wrestling teams.
He said he started running as a senior at Islip High School in 2002, and then ran cross-country at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue from 2003 to 2005. From there, he ran several New York Road Runners races and competed in running events for various charities.
In 2014, at 30, Tieniber ran his first New York City Marathon for the Rose Brucia Educational Foundation, whose mission is reducing the number of child abductions in the U.S. by educating and empowering young people. He completed his second marathon in October in Chicago for Team Boomer, which was founded by former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and works to fight cystic fibrosis. Tieniber said he plans to run the Chicago Marathon again this October and the New York City Marathon in November, if they are not canceled because of the virus.
Tieniber said he was pleased to help bolster the spirits of the senior class through his running. And his students appreciate his efforts, including Gabriela Campos-Peyrou, who called his gesture “incredibly touching.”
“Dr. Tieniber is an extremely selfless and dedicated teacher,” said Campos-Peyrou, who plans to major in pre-med at the Binghamton University in the fall. “He genuinely cares about his students and does all he can to help us suceed.”
Jane Hoeflinger, who will study finance at Penn State University, called Tieniber committed and dedicated. “Him doing something as generous as this does not come as much of a surprise,” she said. “His willingness to go the extra mile for his students has truly made my senior year special, and I will certainly miss having a teacher like him next year.”
Tieniber said he does not have a set number of miles he runs each day; his course depends on how he feels. He noted, however, that he has to run an average of seven miles a day to meet his goal, and that he switches his course. Friends and family members also regularly join him, at a safe social distance.
William Wren, a student of Tieniber’s who plans to study secondary education and history at Molloy College, said that as an avid runner himself, he knows how difficult it is to reach 203 miles in such a short time.
“When I heard about his goal, it was no surprise to me because it sounds exactly like something that he would do,” he said. “He always goes out of his way for his students.”
Serena Riera, who plans to major in psychology at Binghamton University, said, “I was deeply appreciative when I learned about his commitment to running in honor of the class of 2020. Dr. Tieniber has a giant heart, and I would just like to thank him for being a wonderful role model.”
Tieniber is also conducting remote lessons through videoconferences every week. On Instagram, he and many teachers are posting photos from throughout the year each Thursday to ensure their students know they are thought of. Additionally, the Student Government Association, under the guidance of adviser Mary Kirby, uses social media to post daily photos, inspirational quotes and different activities to keep students engaged and to help them stay positive.
“All of us at Lynbrook School District are proud of our seniors,” Tieniber said. “The punches kept coming, and the senior class just kept pushing forward. They were all in. In times like this, I want our seniors to remember, tough times don’t last; tough people do.”