Bordentown Historical Society to hold lecture on famous schools

As the Bordentown Historical Society’s current exhibition series comes to a close on May 4, one final event is scheduled.

The history of the Manual Training and Industrial School will be held this weekend when the group plays as a host to a lecture with Mildred Rice Jordan, Ed. D., granddaughter of the Bordentown School Founder, Rev. A. S. Rice.

The lecture event will be held at the Carslake Community Center in Bordentown City on April 27 and is scheduled from 1-3 p.m.

The lecture will be held in coordination as part of the Bordentown Historical Society’s current exhibition series, “Untold Stories: Achieving Furthered Expectations,” which aims to explain Bordentown’s past educational institutions that had an impact on the widespread practice of segregation at a local level.

The exhibition series has held multiple showings and programs about two particular Bordentown institutions: the Historical School No. 2 and the Manual Training and Industrial School. The MTIS was a statewide boarding school located south of town and operated from 1886-1955.

The group has focused the past several months on informing people about the history of MTIS, gathering perspectives from those who attended the institution and those who were in the local community, but did not attend the school.

“We are at a rare point in history where we have access to those firsthand accounts that can tell of this significant institution,” said Historical Society President Tim Rollender. “This degree of preservation is meaningful – not just for our local community, but more broadly, as well.”

For the lecture, Rice will present on the foundations of the institution as well an an overview from her book regarding the school’s philosophy, policies and practices that can be a model, adapted for reclaiming African American students in the 21st century.

“African Americans are still having issues today with racism and segregation, so people need to know what could be done with the students today in urban areas,” Rice said. “With the Bordentown School, everybody got a quality education. [Students] could receive a high school diploma and also have a trade, so they could be economically independent.”

Following in her grandfather’s footsteps, Rice has built a career in education having dedicated 40 years of her life to education and advocacy for quality education for students in urban communities. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Temple University in 1965, she began her career as a teacher in Philadelphia’s public-school system. She later transitioned to higher education upon earning her doctorate in education from Temple in 1989.

As a professor at Rider University, Rice taught field-based education courses, coordinated and supervised students in urban clinical experiences and was an instructor in the multicultural studies program.

Granted with the opportunity to speak of her grandfather’s history at the school, she said felt a sense of pride to acknowledge his legacy.

“It’s an honor – after 65 years from when the school was closed – that it’s still relevant,” she said. “The [MTIS] documentary is still being shown, and that I am being asked to expand the story and share the story.

“I want people to know me more than as the granddaughter’s founder. I wanted my grandfather to be honored and respected for what he did, which evolved into a magnificent school with a wonderful educational program,” she added.

Although it was the Historical Society’s mission to uncover new information and to expand upon what was already known about MTIS, Rice pointed out that the institution’s history has not necessarily been long ignored or unknown to many.

Having written extensively on her grandfather’s legacy at MTIS, she said that people out there are aware of the institution beyond the Bordentown area and that those who either attended the school or lived in the area when it was in operation are still alive to share its history.

“Many people did know about it,” she said. “People in their 80s and 90s [who have a connection to the school] are still living.”

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