Educator of the Week: Margaret Bancroft

Margaret Bancroft was born on June 28, 1854, in Philadelphia. After graduating from high school, she began her path to become a teacher. From the beginning of her career as a teacher, she primarily focused on educating students with special needs. Back then, there weren’t many opportunities given to children with special needs and often, they grew up with no support, having to fend for themselves. However, Bancroft noticed that these kids could learn if given the proper support along with patience.

Although facing backlash, Bancroft decided to leave her current school and founded Haddonfield School in 1883, where she could prioritize the needs of these students. While there, she focused on working with their literary skills, their education, and their social skills. This allowed for her students to thrive with proper hygiene, nutrition, creativity, and more. They all had an individual program that worked to help their specific needs.

It was shown that Bancroft also made sure they had days with entertainment as well. They would visit museums, theaters, concerts, and more. This helped with their social and cognitive skills which they had to use in adulthood when supporting themselves. Later in 1904, her school was named The Bancroft Training School. This just goes to show how influential Bancroft was and how she made a difference in special needs education and tried to get rid of the stigma around children with special needs.