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Evelyn Di Tosto, Maryland education department official who certified teachers

Evelyn Di Tosto, a retired Maryland Department of Education official who ran the state’s certification program for teachers, died of a stroke Jan. 23 at the J. W. Ruby Memorial Medical Center in Morgantown, W. Va. She was 86 and lived in North Baltimore.

Born in Richwood, W. Va., she was the daughter of Carlo Di Tosto, a tailor and his wife, Catherine Cerre. She received a bachelor’s degree at the University of Charleston and earned a master’s degree and doctorate at West Virginia University. She also studied at the University of Pittsburgh.

She taught at the Fernbank School in Charleston, W. Va. for ten years. She later headed the student teaching division at West Virginia University before moving to Baltimore, where she joined the Maryland Department of Education in 1974.

“For many years she was one of the pivotal people in state education who attended to the issues of teacher quality,” said David W. Hornbeck, Maryland Superintendent of Education from 1976 to 1988. “She was a terrific teacher-educator.”

Nancy Grasmick, Maryland Superintendent of Education from 1991 to 2011, said, “Evelyn enjoyed a wonderful reputation. She had a lot of creativity and people respected her decisions. She was thoughtful and set high standards. Because she set those high standards, she was strict about wanting the best teachers in the classroom. We owe a debt of gratitude to her.”

Ms. Di Tosto created a Master Certification Program and the Maryland Creative Initiative in Teacher Education while at the department of education.

After her retirement from the education department more than 20 years ago, she joined the faculty of Notre Dame University of Maryland, where she was an associate professor and headed the Student Teacher Department. She retired from the university a decade ago.

“We called her Evelina and Enie,” said her niece, Felicia Fisher of Scarsdale, N.Y. “She did things her way. She was fun and free-spirited. She had great style. She was modern and head of her time. She was also a connector between her wide circle of friends and her family.”

Ms. Di Tosto spoke fluent Italian and often visited family members in Bagnoli a Campobasso, Italy, where her family has its roots.

“She held tremendous pride in her heritage as an Italian-American and visited cousins in Rome and in Milan,” Fisher said. “She was a member of a Sons of Italy Lodge, the Ameritas in Charleston, and was a fantastic Italian cook. She made homemade biscotti and pita piata, a pastry baked at Christmas.”

She joined with a friend, Dora Salzano, to write a cookbook “Totally, Totally Italian,” based on their families recipes. They distributed the book as gifts.

“She was passionate, artistic, and bold. She was a lover of the arts, gourmet cooking, professional football and the show Castle,” her niece said. “She also loved sports cars. Her last vehicle was a bright red two-door Cadillac.”

Ms. Di Tosto was a resident of the Highfield House on North Charles Street. Family members said she enjoyed spending time with the building’s residents and was close to its staff.

She had been national chair of the National Association of Teacher Educators standards committee, and was a past president of the Maryland Association of Teacher Educators.

She and her sister established the Di Tosto and Marockie Outstanding Supervising Teacher Award “to recognize educators who support and mentor pre-service teachers” at West Virginia University.

A Mass will be held at 11 A.M. Saturday at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Charleston, W. Va. Plans for a memorial service in Baltimore are incomplete.

In addition to her niece, survivors include a sister, Dr. Mary Marockie of Wheeling, W. Va. a great nephew, Luke Fisher of Scarsdale, N.Y., and numerous cousins.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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