Sheila Z. Kolman, a retired school principal who was president of the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association of Baltimore City, died in her sleep Monday at her Northwest Baltimore home. She was 63.
In a career spanning nearly four decades, Miss Kolman was a tireless advocate for schoolchildren and administrators.
"She was one of those people who never lost sight of the kids. She was also a big proponent of staff development and trained a million people who have gone on to principalships and other leadership roles in education," said Ruth N. Bukatman, a longtime friend who is principal of Booker T. Washington Middle School.
A city native, Miss Kolman was raised on Labyrinth Road and graduated in 1956 from Forest Park High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1960 from Marietta College and a master's in counseling and guidance from Loyola College.
"She was one of the best and the brightest, and graduated from high school when she was 16 and college when she was 20," said her brother, Mark H. Kolman of Columbia. "In those days, women didn't have many professional opportunities and education was one of them, and that's why she became a teacher."
She began her career in 1964 teaching English at Hamilton Junior High. She became a guidance counselor at Northern Parkway Junior High and was named assistant principal of Northwestern High in 1976.
In 1978, she was named principal of Hamilton -- then a middle school -- and from 1979 until 1987 was principal of Garrison Middle. She was an executive intern from 1987 to 1988 in the office of Superintendent Alice G. Pinderhughes, and for the next two years was principal of West Baltimore Middle School.
She was assigned to the school system's office of enterprise support services in 1995, then was principal of Belmont Elementary from 1997 until retiring in 2001.
Miss Kolman was a member for 25 years of the administrators and supervisors association (PSASA) -- the principals union. She had been president since 1991 and was running for another term at her death.
She was also a vice president of the American Federation of School Administrators and a founder of the Maryland State Administrators Association.
She brought the same dogged determination to her work with the union as she did in school positions. She helped negotiate contracts, lobbied in Annapolis and worked to gain better benefits for members. She also mediated conflicts between administrators and confronted such issues as principal burnout.
"They accumulate years of experience and loads of expertise and skills that benefit the schoolchildren and communities, and then they reach a point of burnout. ... It's do-or-die testing. Either your scores go up or you're out," she told The Sun in an interview this month.
"She gave her heart and soul to our organization," said Shirley W. Johnson, executive director of PSASA.
"The school system was her life. She never took vacations and only traveled for business. She never married or had children of her own," her brother said. "Yet she really had thousands and thousands of children. Everyone knew Miss Kolman and everywhere she went people would call out, `Hi, Miss Kolman. Remember me?'"
She was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.
In addition to her brother, she is survived by two nieces and a nephew.