James Mitchell Bennett was born in a small, rural community in Wicomico County in1888. He attended school in the county and after graduating from Western Maryland College, he went on to do post-graduate work at the George Peabody School for Teachers, Johns Hopkins and Columbia University. In 1910, he became a teacher in Wicomico County and was quickly promoted to a principal and soon in 1917; he was named Superintendent of Wicomico County Schools.
Wicomico County Schools were transformed from one-room school houses, scattered across the county, to large, centralized schools systems during James M. Bennett’s time as Superintendent. He was known as a “radical” as he incorporated more meaningful ways to educate and meet student needs that were ahead of his time.
Bennett was very dedicated in the fight for “free and universal” education. During the Great Depression, he was asked to consult for the Joint Commission on the Emergency in Education for Washington DC, to help keep education free and universal during those strenuous times.
Apart from being a strong educational leader, James M Bennett was also a Rotarian, a Mason, a District Chairman of Boy Scouts, a committee member on the Governor’s Commission for the Employment of the Physically Handicapped and a vestryman at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, in Quantico, MD.
James M. Bennett was a fundamentalist; he worked hard to ensure that his students received a well-rounded and a meaningful educational experience. He retired as superintendent in 1957, after which, plans for a new high school were drafted and named James M Bennett High School in his honor.