Bancroft was founded in 1883 as one of the nation's first private schools for children with developmental disabilities. Today, this leading nonprofit organization helps people of all ages reach their full potential for fulfilling and productive lives.
It all began with one remarkable woman — a young Philadelphia teacher named Margaret Bancroft. At the time, children with developmental disabilities weren't usually given the benefits of an education. But Margaret realized that such children have the ability to learn and succeed if given individualized attention, patience and love. She decided to devote her life to this purpose.
Margaret started her school with one pupil in a rented house just a few blocks from the current Haddonfield campus. As word of her success spread, her school grew and acquired another Haddonfield property, as well as a summer site in Maine.
After Margaret died in 1912, she was succeeded by a series of skilled leaders, most of whom served Bancroft for decades. Dr. Ernest Farrington, sisters Jenzia and Miriam Cooley, Dr. Clarence York, Dr. George Niemann, Joseph Hess, and Dr. Robert Martin all made lasting contributions to the organization.
Over the years, the organization became a leader in helping people live as independently as possible, through jobs, homes and leisure activities in their local communities.
Currently, Bancroft is again helmed by an accomplished woman and outstanding leader. President Toni Pergolin helped stabilize the organization's economic condition in 2004 and 2005, after severe financial challenges threatened its very existence. While she initially joined the organization as chief financial officer, Pergolin soon assumed larger responsibilities. She became a vice president, then chief operating officer. In 2006, she was appointed president. Along the way, Pergolin has built a strong leadership team in the areas of both clinical and operations management.
Bancroft celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2008, and is well-positioned for a bright future. Combining rich tradition with an advanced vision, Bancroft continues to lead the way in its field - helping people with disabilities learn, grow and flourish.