Herman Hofer Hegner

Pestalozzi Froebel Teachers' College / Columbia College

1936 - 1944

Herman Hofer Hegner was born to the Reverend Herman Frederick and Bertha (Hofer) Hegner on September 12, 1902 in Chicago, IL. His father was a Congregational minister and his mother established the Pestalozzi Froebel Teachers College (PFTC) for the training of kindergarten and primary grade teachers.

Bertha Hofer Hegner studied at the Pestalozzi Froebel Haus in Berlin, Germany, operated by Johann Pestalozzi, a Swiss educator, and Freidrich Froebel, a German educator who founded the first kindergarten. She settled in Chicago where she began the first kindergarten at the Chicago Commons Settlement, then left to found PFTC in 1896. She served as its head until 1936, although due to illness, her son served as acting president of the institution from 1930 until 1936 when he was named her successor.

From 1927 until 1944, the Pestalozzi Froebel Teachers College was closely associated with Columbia College. After the death of its founder, Mary A. Blood, PFTC owned Columbia’s name, assets, records, and student files until Columbia College separated from PFTC in 1944 when Norman Alexandroff became its president. The two institutions remained close, however, sharing staff and faculty until 1963.

Herman Hegner hired Norman Alexandroff in 1934 to develop a radio curriculum for the colleges as both institutions were suffering financially. The two men focused on the dramatic method of teaching in 1939 as their research found children learn best through dramatic impulses. In 1940, Norman Alexandroff was named director of the National Artists’ Foundation with Herman Hegner serving on its board.

Herman Hofer Hegner died in San Diego, CA in February 1973.