Bridgewater State University traces its roots back to 1840, before the United States had a formal system to educate children. At the urging of the great education pioneer Horace Mann, Massachusetts’ top education official at the time, the first teachers’ colleges in America were formed. Bridgewater, which started in the basement of the town hall, was one of them. Today, Bridgewater produces more teachers for the state than any other school. It is also proudly making its mark on the international stage, spreading knowledge of the craft of teaching to the developing world.
Bridgewater’s president, Dana Mohler-Faria, who hails from Cape Verde, helped that island nation off the coast of West Africa plan its first public university. Bridgewater is helping the University of Cape Verde to develop an English-language curriculum, computer networks, and faculty and student exchanges. But that’s not Bridgewater’s only international partnership. Its professors are also helping the tiny Central American nation of Belize develop a system of special education for mentally disabled students. They are also working with the Cambodian government to promote environmental education.
Massachusetts should be proud that a school that contributed so much to the establishment of its own education system is transferring that knowledge to the rest of the world. At a time when international experience is growing increasingly important, Bridgewater’s partnerships are bound to benefit its own student body as much as they benefit young people around the world.