Obituary: Clifford Bennett, 87, educational trailblazer for Pat-Med and beyond


Clifford Bennett

May 21, 1936 – April 26, 2024

Cliff Bennett’s career in education spanned three decades.

He began his journey in 1959 as a science teacher at Island Trees Middle School, where he spent seven years fostering young minds as a coach, teacher and department chairperson. In 1966, Bennett transitioned to the Patchogue-Medford School District, assuming the role of assistant principal at the high school.

After one year, he became the principal of South Ocean Middle School, where he served for 14 years. Bennett was a staunch advocate for the emerging middle school mission, prioritizing the holistic growth of early adolescents.

Beyond his administrative duties, Bennett was involved in the local community, serving as a member of the Rotary Club for 30 years and its president in 1973. 

In 1981, Bennett took on the role of District Director of Student Support Services, where he spearheaded initiatives aimed at enhancing counseling services, special education and health education.

Notably, he played a key role in restructuring the guidance department, emphasizing proactive counseling and the establishment of a comprehensive college and career guidance office in the Patchogue-Medford Public Library.

Throughout his tenure, Bennett was a trailblazer in educational innovation, contributing to the development of HIV/AIDS health education curriculum for New York State and implementing federally and state-funded drug abuse prevention programs within the Pat-Med school district.

Following his retirement in 1991, Bennett continued his dedication to education by serving as an adjunct assistant professor of education and field supervisor of student teachers at Dowling College for 10 years, mentoring future educators. 

Bennett advocated for engaging multimodal learning practices in the classroom, an educational system in which all stakeholders take responsibility for student growth and achievement and respect for hard working educators.

In his memoir, titled Challenging Choices, Bennett reflects on his career:

“Teaching is the noblest of professions. Teaching is the one profession that makes all others possible. It is a meaningful, satisfying, challenging choice.”

He passed away peacefully on April 26, 2024, at the age of 87 after bravely battling Alzheimer’s Disease.

Bennett is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Judy, and his four children: Brian, Cynthia Reisert, Bruce, and Susan Liskowicz. He also leaves behind eight grandchildren, as well as a legacy of dedication to education and community service in the greater Patchogue community.

– courtesy of the Clifford Bennett family

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