Wheelock Remembers Dr. Joan Bergstrom

April 15, 2010

Read a special tribute from President Jackie Jenkins-Scott [pdf]

The entire Wheelock community was saddened to learn of the passing of Joan Bergstrom, Professor of Education and Director, Wheelock College's Center for International Education, Leadership, and Innovation. She died peacefully April 6, 2010 at Massachusetts General Hospital with her family at her side.

Humanitarian, leader, educator, consultant, author, mentor, friend: Joan assumed many roles in a range of innovative and high impact endeavors. Joan was committed to ensuring that children, families, and professionals around the world had access to quality education and support, developing creative educational programs and leading the creation of online courses to meet global needs. Thousands of early childhood educators and others in Boston, Singapore, and elsewhere regard her not only as their professor but their mentor and champion.

Joan's work has had, and will continue to have, a global impact. She began her work in Singapore 20 years ago as a consultant on a United Nations Development Program, a four-year initiative in early childhood education. She then worked with the Ministry of Community Development to educate Ministry staff on high-quality programs and the design of environments for young children. The Wheelock College Center for International Education, Leadership, and Innovation was established as a result of this consultancy work. Today, the Center coordinates all of Wheelock College's global endeavors, including its degree-granting programs in Asia and the Caribbean. The impact of Joan's work will live on through countless Wheelock College alumni and in the young children they nurture, mentor, and teach as the Center continues Joan's important efforts.

Less widely known, perhaps, was her success as an entrepreneur. She was the founder of Children's Out-of-School Time, Inc., and The Activities Club®, companies that developed curriculum and other educational materials for use by school-age children in their out-of-school time. Many of these programs have been implemented globally.  Joan also co-founded Workplace Connections, a company committed to offering high quality family-friendly programs and establishing workplace childcare settings.

Joan also wrote a number of well-acclaimed books for children and parents, working closely with her long time publisher, Ten Speed Press. Over the years, Joan enjoyed serving as a trustee or board member for institutions including Tufts University, the Museum of Science in Boston, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the Board of Overseers for the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.

Recognized by many organizations and institutions for her countless efforts, Joan leaves a legacy of caring, dedication, commitment, and inspiration. It is impossible to enumerate all of the ways in which she has had a positive impact. Joan dedicated her lifetime to service in support of the lives of children and families throughout the world. She will be long remembered, greatly valued, and sincerely missed by so many around the globe.

Joan was born in Boston in July 1940 to Sally Margosian Walden of Andover, Mass and the late Charles S. Margosian. She is survived by her loving husband Gary Bergstrom, their son Craig, daughter-in-law Victoria, and grandson James, to whom she was particularly devoted. Joan has left this earth but not the hearts of her extended family with whom she shared her joy for life.

Wheelock College held a memorial service honoring Joan on Friday, April 23, at the Brookline Campus living room (43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA). On April 22, Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president of Wheelock, gave a moving tribute to Joan at a memorial service held at MIT.

Gifts in Joan's memory can be made to Wheelock College's Center for International Education, Leadership and Innovation and will be designated for a special account named "In Memory of Dr. Joan Bergstrom."

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