Barbara Henriques
Coordinator for School Partnerships and Visiting
Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

At some point during her career as an elementary school science teacher, Barbara Henriques came to the conclusion that she would have a much greater impact on the lives of students if she studied the most effective ways for schools to operate and for teachers to teach. Once she made up her mind to do just that, she began a journey that has taken her from that classroom in Holyoke, Massachusetts, to Yale Divinity School, to Bank Street College of Education in New York City, back to Massachusetts to complete advanced studies at UMass, to Skidmore College, across the globe to Lithuania, and, finally, to Trinity College—where she arrived in 2000.

“I love teaching,” she says with a characteristic laugh. “But I also have an almost inherent need to learn new things. When I was studying at Yale Divinity, where I was both a student and an administrative employee, my classmates and professors just assumed that I was going to become an ordained minister of some kind. In reality, I was there for the education; then I went back to teaching.”

Along the way, Henriques has compiled an impressive array of experiences and credentials. The daughter of Portuguese immigrants—her late father ran a small moving business and her mother worked as a sewing machine operator—she was the first person in her family to attend college. Intending to major in business, she enrolled in community college after working at a bank in Holyoke. She soon switched to the sciences and transferred to UMass as a microbiology major. “Then I had a summer internship where I worked for the state department of public health,” she explains. “That experience convinced me that I didn’t want to be microbiology major. So I transferred to the school of education and got my degree in elementary education with a major in science.”

While teaching at St. Thomas’s Day School in New Haven, Henriques was selected to participate in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange program. After traveling to England for a year, she was chosen as a PIMMS (Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science) Fellow. Associated with Wesleyan University, PIMMS is designed to provide participants with new teaching strategies and to further develop their leadership capabilities in order to extend the impact of the program to fellow educators. Henriques says that it was while studying at Bank Street College of Education a few years later that she decided to pursue a doctoral degree. So she headed back to UMass, where she earned an Ed.D. in 1997.

Among the accomplishments of which she is most proud, Henriques has traveled to Lithuania numerous times over the past 12 years to assist in the creation of an effective national education system following the break-up of the Soviet Union. Working through the A.P.P.L.E. organization (American Professional Partnership for Lithuanian Education), and with funding from the Soros Foundation, she has helped to establish 59 teacher centers across the country to support educational reform. Says Henriques, “The Lithuanian Ministry of Education recognizes how important a viable national education system is to the future of the country, especially given its pending membership in the European Union. It’s really a simple principle: we can teach them techniques that will then be taught to other teachers, and so on. In that way, education is contagious.”

It is a principle that Barbara Henriques applies at Trinity every day.

 

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