Penka Kassabova, was a pioneer of early childhood education in Bulgaria. During WWII Penka took to her school four Jewish students, even though the ‘Law for the defense of the nation’ did not allow to admit Jewish students into higher education institutions. One of these students was my mom Ika Comforty who lives in Tel Aviv, and who have stayed in touch with Penka all her life. My mom saw Penka as the most influential person in her life. Penka’s values were passed to me by my mom as a child. They are very important to me today as an adult.
Ms Kassabova, was the sister of Geo Millev, the great Bulgarian poet. In 1925-1928 she came to the US, to Evanston Illinois to study at the National College of Education. It was then called National College of Kindergarten. When she returned to Bulgaria she became a teacher and later the principal of the American Kindergarten in Sofia and the school for kindergarten teachers. The school was shut down by the fascist regime in 1943, because Penka admitted Jewish students to her school, and for her refusal to let the pro-Nazi youth movement ‘Branik’ to recruit and operate in the school. Her school was never reopened. Penka Kassabova died in the year 2000 at age 99.