James Mickelborough Greenwood, son of Edmond and Jeanette (Foster) Greenwood, was born November 15, 1837 in Sangamon County, IL. His parents moved to Adair County, MO in 1852 where, after completing his public school education at age 16, James began teaching in the county rural schools. He later attended the Methodist Seminary at Canton, MO, then taught again in Adair County schools as well as those in Knox and Scotland Counties, MO and Adams County, IL.
In 1867, Joseph Baldwin recruited Greenwood to teach mathematics, logic and natural philosophy at the Normal School he was organizing in Kirksville. He also hired Greenwood's wife Amanda. Other than six months at Mount Pleasant College in Huntsville, MO, the Greenwoods remained on Baldwin's faculty until 1874 when James accepted the position of Superintendent of the Kansas City public Schools.
During his years in Kansas City, Greenwood, a prolific writer and lecturer, became one of the leading figures in state and national public school education. He served one term as President of the Missouri Teachers Association and was honored with a Doctor of Laws from the University of Missouri in 1896. He was an extremely active member of the National Education Association, serving as its Treasurer, 1890-95, and President, 1898. Upon his retirement in May 1913, he was appointed Advisor to the Kansas City Board of Education and continued in that work until his death, at his office desk, on August 1, 1914.
Greenwood and Amanda McDaniel, a Kirksville teacher, were married in 1859. Their children were Ada (Mrs WH) McLaughlin, Victor H, and Jeanette "Nettie" (Mrs CA) Lewers. Amanda died in 1904, and James married Mrs Josephine (Woodbury) Heermans, a long-time friends and the Principal of Whittier School in 1913.
Ryle, Walter H. Centennial History of the Northeast Missouri State Teachers College. Kirksville: the College, 1972.
Selby, P.O. One Hundred Twenty-Three Biographies of Deceased Faculty Members. Kirksville: Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, 1962.