McKinney, Texas – There are a multitude of concerns and pursuits that we can choose to invest our lives in. Some of them endure. Some quickly fade away. But, what we do with the time that we have matters, and the life of Mildred Bennett serves as a poignant reminder of that.
She passed away on Oct. 27, 2018 at the remarkable age of 103 and was, together with her late husband, Dean, the namesake of Bennett Elementary. Looking back across the far-reaching vista of her life, it’s plainly obvious that she chose to invest her life in something that endures for generations.
She invested her life in kids.
Three years ago on her 100th birthday, the staff, students and parents of Bennett Elementary marked the milestone with a jubilant school wide celebration. And, while that occasion was certainly momentous, her presence at the school was nothing out of the ordinary; Mrs. Bennett was there frequently until her health began to keep her away. It seemed like the only thing that could.
She was the treasured matriarch of the Bennett Elementary family, and the children loved her.
And, without a doubt, she loved them.
At the school’s monthly assemblies, Mrs. Bennett could be found—in her late nineties—handing out recognition awards to students who exemplified the Bennett Creed:
I believe in myself. I’m eager to learn. I always have a positive attitude. I respect myself and others, and I strive for success.
When fifth graders received their yearbooks, Mrs. Bennett was there to sign them, and they would line up eagerly as she sent them off to middle school with best wishes for success.
She set up an endowment with the McKinney Education Foundation to provide a $500 scholarship to MISD graduates who had attended Bennett Elementary from kindergarten through fifth grade. And, she was there to present the first scholarships to Austen Baechle and Lyndsey Henderson in May 2015. Other Bennett Elementary recipients included Lily Isbell in 2017 and Jadon Seall in 2018.
“She was like a celebrity,” said Bennett Principal Amy Holderman. “The kids truly felt like they were in the midst of somebody grand—which they were.”
Holderman and Assistant Principal Rachel Constantinescu had the privilege to spend time with Mrs. Bennett on a regular basis.
“The people that she taught during her career…everybody just talks about what a kind soul she was,” said Holderman. “And, I feel that she was all about making those relationships and those personal connections with the kids.
“And, that’s what she did when she came on our campus. It was all about the kids.”
“She would always want to wear her Bennett shirt,” added Constantinescu. “She was so proud of this school and always asked questions about, ‘How many students are there now? How is it going? What are the next things that are coming up?’”
It’s mind-boggling to consider that Mrs. Bennett began her career in education 80 years ago as a teacher in Brownsboro ISD in 1938. She married Dean Bennett the following year and left Brownsboro for Big Spring ISD, where she would teach for the next 15 years.
In 1954, she came to McKinney and taught third grade before moving to McKinney High School where she became an institution as the typing, shorthand and secretarial training teacher. She retired in 1978 after 24 years of service in McKinney ISD and a total of 40 years in education.
In 2002, McKinney ISD opened a new elementary school on Coronado Drive and named it Dean and Mildred Bennett Elementary School.
“I think if you speak to anyone that grew up in McKinney or knew Mrs. Bennett, they would all agree that she exemplified class in everything that she did,” said MISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel. “The reason that McKinney ISD named a school after Mrs. Bennett is that she had a high standard for the students that she taught, and, consequently, we try to maintain that same high standard at Bennett Elementary. And, I think the leadership at the campus level has done an outstanding job of incorporating her legacy into all that they have done and all that they’ve accomplished.”
The world has undergone incredible transformation since Mildred Bennett first stepped into a classroom 80 years ago. But, through all of those decades of change, Bennett’s love for students endured, and that’s an investment that always pays off in the long run.
What would the world do without people like Mildred Bennett?
Thank you, Mrs. Bennett for the way that you have impacted our school district, and most importantly, our kids.
You will be deeply missed.
But, your legacy will endure.
For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.