Michael and Esther Bench


Michael (Mickey) Bench, ‘72  and Esther Bench (Ybarra), ‘71


Esther and I married in 1971, married still.  We live near Monterey in a tiny berg called Prunedale (also called Prunetuckey by many locals), California.


Esther studied ESL at Covell and became an elementary teacher, grades 5, 3, 1, and Kindergarten.  She was solely a bilingual teacher until California abolished bilingual. She then went into Dual- Emersion. Thus, she has taught in spanish for 38 years. She has taught up to 5 brothers and sisters from the same family over a period of years, but possibily as many as 15 or more children from the same family when you add the cousins. “Mrs. Bench” is a well known, well respected Maestra in the hispanic community of Salinas.  She attends a birthday party, a First communion celebration, a Quincenera, or some such event of a former student almost every month. The Salinas Baile Folklorico this year dedicated one evenings performance to La Maestra Mrs. Bench.

Esther retired this year (official last week), but she cannot stop working (our daughter, Lindsey, is attending undergrad school). Esther has already secured a new position at UC, Santa Cruz, training new teachers.

After I left Covell, I taught high school English, then Special Ed for several years, then Administrator of a Special Ed School, then a Hospital Administrator.  It was at this time as a hospital executive that I changed my name from Mickey to Michael, because I thought that Mickey sounded, well, Mickey Mouse.

I did not enjoy the first half of my working life, so I studied to become a horticulturist (I guess, once a farmer, always a farmer). With this I designed landscapes and helped manage a landscape company.

I am now a certified Arborist and have my own very small (me) consulting company. This second half has been and is very fun.


Esther and I have 3 children.

Jason, our oldest, died in a car accident at age 17.  This event has altered us for the remainder of our lives. I miss him every day.   

Justin, our second, 29 years of age, has a M.S. degree from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, CA.  He works in Quito, Equador, for a Dutch company essentially attempting to reduce poverty there.    

Lindsey, our youngest, 24 years of age,  is attending the Academy of Arts, San Francisco. She is also a make-up artist and has done make-up on 3 or 4 “B” rated movies.


All our kids were soccer players. This forced me to learn the game, which I did not understand while attending Covell.   I became un “Arbitro” for about 25 years: league, high school, college, adult league, 1 semi-pro game.  Pro players whine a lot.

I now am a bagpiper, mostly for fun, occasionally for profit. Go to www.montereypipers.com and I’ll play a tune for you.

Be well, always do good work,

Mick and Esther