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Page 14 text:
THE FIRST THREE PRINCIPALS OF THE
BRIDGEWATER STATE NORMAL SCHOOL
ALBERT GARDNER BOYDEN
Page 13 text:
"A TRAINED TEACHER FOR EVERY CHILD"
It is fitting that the mural representing the first State Normal School in America should
have the central place in our auditorium among those paintings which show the progress
of education throughout the world. This one must be an inspiration to all who see it.
It was at Lexington, July 3, 1839, that the dream of Horace Mann was realized, Massa-
chusetts at last had a State Normal School! And the picture of this first Normal School was
painted by a student of the Massachusetts School of Art, one of the many products of this
Although it may not seem so, the subject of this painting is one which is only too familiar
-representing the entrance examination into the first state normal school, offering quite a
contrast, in numbers at least, to the entrance examinations today. In the background is
Horace Mann, whose broad vision and tireless labor made this establishment possible, and
near him is the Reverend Cyrus Pierce, the first principal and teacher of the school. The
three girls are, of course, the prospective pupils. The weather certainly gave no encourage-
ment-it was raining heavily, a dark, gloomy, dismal day. Small wonder that only three
persons were present.
But "he whom a dream hath possessed knoweth no more of doubting," and despite the
small beginning, the hopes and ideals of the Father of Massachusetts Normal Schools never
faltered. He is shown as a slim, grayhaired man with a mobile face alive with enthusiasm
on this most auspicious day. Massachusetts, he believed, was the only state in the Union
where Normal Schools could be established with any chance of success. How he had worked
and hoped and planned for this day can be realized to only a slight extent when we consider
his lectures, his educational reports, his writing and his Common School journal,--every-
thing he did and said to further the cause.
One of Mr. Mann's biggest problems was the selection of a principal for this school.
He went over all New England before he found someone he thought could manage with a
fair chance of success. He chose the Reverend Cyrus Pierce of Nantucket, an excellent
teacher who possessed the supreme power of winning the confidence of his pupils. His
responsibility was very great, greater even than he realized, for if the school were not re-
garded favorably by the public at the beginning, the whole Normal School movement would
be a failure. But this man who excelled in training both the mental and moral natures of
his pupils, and whose motto was "Live to the truth," did not fail, and the whole cause was
strengthened by his presence. By the time the first quarter was over, there were twelve
pupils, and, greatly encouraged, Mr. Pierce wrote in his journal that most of those who had
attended had made a good beginning.
This school at Lexington, however, was for women-students exclusively, it was moved
twice before being permanently located, first to VVest Newton, and finally to Framingham.
Thus with but three pupils and one teacher, less than a century ago was started the move-
ment which proved to have such a glorious future. From this small beginning have come
the teachers and leaders and educators who have spread and fostered the Normal School
cause throughout the broad vastness of the United States.
Page 15 text:
FIRST THREE PRINCIPALS
VVhen Nicholas Tillinghast entered upon his work as the first principal of the Normal
School at Bridgewater, normal schools were still at a stage where they had to prove their
worth and show by their results that they were worthy of support. The want of a good
building and appliances, as well as of an able assistant, had to be overcome by the principal.
Courses of study had to be made and methods of teaching carefully considered, because as a
teacher of teachers, his work must be exemplary.
Mr. Tillinghast was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, September 22, 1804, and he was
educated at VVest Point, where he later taught. At the request of Horace Mann he accepted
the principalship of the State Normal School at Bridgewater, which was Opelled September
9, 1840, with twenty-eight pupils,-seven men, and twenty-one women.
The principalship of Mr. Tillinghast lasted for thirteen years, during which time he de-
voted himself to the work of establishing the school on a firm foundation, and in this work
he was most successful.
No greater tribute can be paid to him than that of one of his pupils, who said: "He
was sincere and true in all his dealings with himself and others."
The second principal of the State Normal School, Mr. Conant, had always been in-
terested in education and this interest paved the way to an acquaintance which soon
ripened to friendship with Mr. Tillinghast. VVhen the latter resigned as principal he recom-
mended his friend as his successor. At this time Mr. Conant was fifty-two years old and
brought to the school a life full of varied and long experience as a civil engineer and teacher.
His aim was to make the Normal School a real training school where the pupils should feel
the responsibilities of their profession, and to this end he organized the scheme of having
students teach before their own classes for further poise and corrective criticisms. One of
his graduates says of Mr. Conant: "Many a one owes to him an awakening and an in-
spiration which changed the whole current of his thought and ennobled his whole life."
Because of the influence of two teachers whom he greatly revered, at the age of four-
teen, Albert Gardner Boyden decided to become a teacher. Working steadily on a farm,
and in the employ of his father, a blacksmith, he earned enough money to enter the State
Normal School at Bridgewater. Mr. Boyden entered the Normal School in 1848, gradu-
ated in 1849, and then spent an extra post graduate term at the school. On the twenty-
second of August, 1860, Mr. Boyden, a young man thirty-three years old, was appointed
principal of the State Normal School at Bridgewater. On being informed of his appoint-
ment he characteristically replied, "I shall do my best to meet the requirements." Mr.
Boyden's term of forty-six years as principal has been memorable for the progress accom-
plished by the school under his guidance. The establishment of a training school, the
building of a new gymnasium, increase in the staff of teachers, and higher standards of ad-
mission, characterize the progress carried on by him in the school. Mr. A. G. Boyden
resigned the principalship of the school on August 1, 1906. At the same time, however, he
was appointed to the honorable position of principal emeritus with charge of instruction in
the "educational study of man" and the school laws of Massachusetts. At the time of Mr.
Boyden's eightieth birthday his native town, Walpole, organized a celebration in recognition
of the intellectual and educational work to which he had devoted his life.
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