Rochelle Ingram

[Age 59] The state's chief of teacher education later directed Johns Hopkins' graduate education programs.

Dr. Ingram "had a lifelong commitment to championing social justice," said a Hopkins colleague.

October 04, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Rochelle "Shelley" Ingram, a teacher of teachers and former associate dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education and director of its graduate education programs, died of a neurological disease Monday at her Owings Mills home. She was 59.

Friends said that in her 35 years in the education field, Dr. Ingram strove to overcome ethnic and cultural differences, and ardently believed society must educate its young to achieve high levels of competence.

"She wanted the very best teachers in the world for Maryland's children," said state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. "I learned so much from Shelley. She could make you understand anything and everything."

Born Rochelle Linda Bagell in Philadelphia and raised in Flushing, N.Y., she earned an undergraduate degree in history at Pennsylvania State University, where she also received a master's in curriculum and instruction. She then taught briefly in Chicago public schools.

In the early 1970s, she worked for an institute in India that sought to educate the poor in the Third World.

"That was a transformative experience for her," said her daughter, Jordanna Shahraki of Bowie. "After that, she knew she wanted to change the world."

After returning to the United States, she earned a doctorate in school administration at the University of Maryland, College Park. She also taught at Eisenhower High School in Laurel and ran a program for gifted children in Orono, Maine.

In the mid-1980s, she returned to Maryland and joined the Maryland State Department of Education, where she worked in teacher recruitment and teacher education. She was chief of teacher education and certification for the state from 1992 to 1994, the year she became an assistant state schools superintendent, a post she held for two years. She oversaw the licensing of teachers at 23 colleges and universities and the accreditation of nonpublic schools.

In 1996, she joined the Hopkins education faculty and, among other duties, ran a project to set up a network of school-university-community-business partnerships to recruit and prepare new teachers.

"She certainly had a charismatic personality," said Ralph Fessler, dean of Hopkins' School of Education. "She had a lifelong commitment to championing social justice. She believed that children had a right to quality education."

Dr. Ingram, who was raised in the Jewish faith and later converted to Buddhism, was a Christian at her death. She spoke Spanish and Hebrew. She also traveled extensively.

"Long before diversity became an `in' word, Shelley lived it," said A. Skipp Sanders, deputy state schools superintendent.

Her husband of 12 years, William B. Ingram, said, "She would not tolerate negative thinking when it came to children's education. She fought hard for her kids."

Colleagues recalled that she often said, "You remember your very best teachers and your very worst ones. The ones in between go by the wayside."

She received a Governor's Citation for Distinguished Service and another for Most Valuable State Employee in 1994. She was also recognized for her work at Hopkins' 2005 Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration.

"We used to call her Loretta Young because she could turn on the charm," said W. Neil Kehl, a close friend who lives in Finksburg, who compared her to the film star. "Shelley could take people who didn't get along and bring them together. She was an individual who did not see gender, cultural or ethnic differences. Her friends look like a poster for a trip around the world."

A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow at the Columbia Community Church, 8516 Thomas Williams Way in Columbia.

In addition to her husband and daughter, survivors include a son, William J. Clemson of New York; her mother, Edith Silverstein of Coronado, Calif.; a brother, Neal Bagell of Philadelphia; a sister, Maren Thompson, also of Coronado; a stepson, Eric Ingram of Perris, Calif.; two stepdaughters, Katrina Ingram and Elaine Walker, also of Perris; and five grandchildren. A previous marriage to Barry Clemson ended in divorce.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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