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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Gertrude Kern Herriott Coyle


Gertrude Kern Herriott Coyle

Gertrude Kern Herriott Coyle

When Gertrude Kern Herriott Coyle (B.S. ’26) attended Teachers College, she studied under Patty Smith Hill, one of the leading scholars of early childhood education. Professor Hill, the cocreator of what became the “Happy Birthday” song, was a key founder of the National Association of Nursery Education.

Gertrude had always wanted to honor the faculty of Teachers College, “who so greatly influenced her life,” says her grandson, Scott Herriott. So when she passed away in 1986, she left TC some money and instructed her son, Robert, to set up the Gertrude Kern Herriott Coyle Scholarship Fund in Early Childhood Education. He did so and added to the fund himself. “My father always felt that the money he was bequeathed by his mother should honor the previous generation,” says Scott.

After graduating from Teachers College, Gertrude worked as an instructor of early childhood education at Miami University of Ohio. She left her teaching position after she got married to work with her husband (a graduate of Union Theological Seminary) at his church, but she passed on her love of education to her son and grandson, both of whom became professors.  “It was a great source of satisfaction for my grandmother to see my dad go into a scholarly career,” Scott says. “She valued education immensely, as did he.” The next generation of TC early childhood educators will know just how much.
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