Mamadou “Mr. Papis” Traore Brings the Goddard Model to West Africa

Mamadou Traore (BA EDU ’14), whose family and friends know him as “Papi,”
embodies Goddard’s holistic approach to education.

Goddard students seeking the path of rigorous, cultural inquiry hail from across the world. Mamadou Traore (BA EDU ’14), whose family and friends know him as “Papi,” embodies Goddard’s holistic approach to education. Originally from Senegal in West Africa, he traversed the globe to attend the Vermont campus where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education.

“I always knew I wanted to work with young children,” he says. “I worked as a Kindergarten assistant at the International School of Dakar while attending Goddard. It was hard, but so worth it. When I take the praxis this summer, I can be a full-fledged teacher with a classroom of my own.”

Dakar, the westernmost city on the African mainland, is a metropolis with an estimated 2.4 million people. The fact that it is a major point for trans-Atlantic and European trade makes its internationalism profound.

The International School of Dakar is a private international school modeled after the U.S. style of educational programming, with English taught as primary language. It supports students starting at pre-k through the twelfth grade. The range of ethnicities amongst families and faculty resonated with Mamadou, who was able to harness Goddard’s mission of inclusion in an environment that often feels what he considers to be a “miniature United Nations.”

“Coming from a developing country where over half the children don’t have access to even primary school, I was inspired to contribute to the sense of tight community Goddard modeled. I felt like I was an important part of my cohort even while studying from abroad.”

As a middle school soccer coach, he has taught first-time players, emphasizing always how to deal with people from different cultural backgrounds.

“I always knew I wanted to teach internationally,” continues Mamadou. “Attending Goddard just solidified my passion. Teaching is all about relationships and feeling safe.”

Mamadou is proud to serve as a linguistic mediator, using his Spanish and French skills to help families get by in the international school system. With his certification, Mamadou is empowered to create his own curriculum, which he develops using creative methods he adopted from Goddard. The approach is collaborative to reflect the needs of the school’s student body.

It’s easy to imagine how as soon as Mamadou steps foot in his classroom, his “kids” bubble forth with the same enthusiasm he exudes, calling him by his nickname, “Mr. Papis.” They point eagerly to their clean desks or freshly hung art projects. Seeing the shiny young faces glow with excitement secures Mamadou in feeling that he’s doing the right thing.

“Goddard was the right choice for me, because now I know the significance of how nurturing the child enhances the community. No matter how old, what language you speak, or where you come from, we all need each other. That’s the way it works.”

This article was originally published by Sarah Kishpaugh (MFAW ’14) in Clockworks Magazine in 2014 under the Goddard In the World banner.

Envision a classroom of your own design. Educators who wish to embody and encourage the kind of learner-driven model should also be students of that model. Join our community of progressive educators who all continue to learn, grow, and support one another. Make an inquiry about enrollment at Goddard College today.

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to

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