MARJORIE BOOTH BONNET,
Principal of Highland Springs School 1924-1944
By Susan Booth Bonnet Chermside
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Highland Springs by way of Glen
Marjorie’s husband returned from his war-connected
duties, he decided to settle in Richmond, Virginia,
move his wife and child there and take a job with an
Mrs. Bonnet had not planned to be a teacher when she
graduated from Hollins. She did not have a teaching
certificate, but it looked as though she would need
to continue working. With a Special Certificate from
the Board of Education of the Commonwealth of Virginia,
she secured the principalship of Glen Echo School, a
school just outside of Richmond, which offered grades
one through seven. Our family boarded in Richmond and
in Barton Heights and Mrs. Bonnet and Susan rode the
interurban streetcar to Glen Echo each day.
In September 1923, Marjorie Bonnet went to Highland
Springs High School as Assistant Principal. After that
we boarded during the school term each year with a family
in Highland Springs.
During the school years 1923-24 and 1924-25, Mrs. Bonnet’s
first two years at Highland Springs, Mr. A. C. Cooper
was Division Superintendent of Henrico County and Mr.
Holmes Turner was the principal at Highland Springs.
It was necessary that Mrs. Bonnet spend many summers
at summer school in order to keep her State Teacher’s
Certificate up to date. She had summer classes at the
University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania,
and at William and Mary. During those summers she studied
everything from “Language Arts and Skills”
and “International Affairs” to “History
of Education” and “Curriculum Development
in Secondary Schools.”
After World War II, my mother was studying at William
and Mary and found herself in class with young men just
home from the war. She said many times that the greatest
challenge she had ever faced was keeping up in her studies
with those young ex-servicemen, who were so earnest
and showed such serious determination.
One summer she was at William and Mary in Williamsburg
working in a Laboratory Conference for High School Faculties.
I believe it was that group who recommended that the
State of Virginia institute an Eighth Grade into its
school systems. In Virginia, there had always been only
SEVEN grades in elementary school and four years of
high school. The recommendation was acted upon and now
there would be twelve instead of eleven years of school
before college in the Commonwealth.
In the fall of 1925 Highland Springs opened the doors
of its new High School, which was connected to the grade
school (built in 1909) by a covered walk.
In the Highland Springs graduating class of 1929 there
was a studious, lively, and attractive, golden-haired
young lady named Mildred Taurman who, during her high
school years, belonged to the Page Literary Society,
Citizens’ Association, Business Club, and School
Chorus. In 1926 she was Historian of her class. In her
Senior year she was Secretary of the Class of ’29,
Class Poet and on the staff that produced the Highlander
annual for that year.
I do not know just when Mildred became my mother’s
Secretary, but I do know that she performed her duties
in that capacity admirably. Mildred was Mommie Bonnet’s
right hand for many years. I know that my mother depended
on Mildred for many things. Mother did not drive and
a secretary with an automobile was very helpful.
Glen Allen to New York State
In September 1944, Mrs. Bonnet went to Glen Allen High
School as Associate Principal to Mr. George H. Moody,
Principal. She had an apartment in the legendary old
Glen Allen Hotel, which has since been torn down. There,
she was within walking distance of the school.
In 1950 Mother retired, moved in with my family in Charlotte
Court House, VA, and helped take care of her three grandchildren.
In 1956 she moved with us to western NY State.
She broke her hip soon after arriving in New York, but
kept her good spirits and managed to get about the house.
In warm weather she enjoyed going to a nearby outdoor
pool to swim. She was a favorite of the high school
friends of her granddaughters who enjoyed visiting her
and discussing books and other things.
Marjorie Booth Bonnet died of a stroke in May of 1963
and was buried beside her husband in a family cemetery
on South Isle Plantation, which her father had bought
in Virginia in 1910.
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