Leslie Chapman, a Howard County teacher of gifted and talented pupils, died Wednesday of melanoma at her Ellicott City home. She was 43.
A teacher at Worthington Elementary School in Ellicott City, she had earlier taught at Clarksville and Swansfield elementary schools in Columbia. She worked with pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade.
"She was the true meaning of a teacher - her kids and their learning experience came first," said Andrea "Andy" Gershman, a friend and teacher at the Worthington school. "She was warm and giving. The kids wanted to be with her. She was so able to pull from them. They were excited to be in her class. They knew she was backing them the whole way."
Friends recalled her as an energetic teacher who encouraged her pupils to reach for higher levels of learning. They said she taught her pupils that anything can be accomplished through hard work and perseverance.
"There isn't a Navy captain who wouldn't be proud of the tight ship she ran," said her husband, David M. Chapman, a chemist, whom she married in 1982. "It was amazing to follow her through a typical day - she immersed herself in her regular teaching, came home and went through the boys' schoolwork, made dinner and did the housework. ... It was usually 10 p.m. before she had any time for herself, and it was then a short tea or ice cream before just a little unwinding."
She developed and led a systemwide project to help teachers meet the needs of bright students in their classrooms. She spoke about her work at the National Conference for Gifted Children last year in Albuquerque, N.M.
"She was in the forefront of integrating technology into instruction," said Robert O. Glascock, director of curricular programs in the Howard County school system. "She was always at the cutting edge."
Born Leslie Trone in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was raised in Summit, N.J. She received a bachelor of science degree from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., in 1979, a master's degree in elementary education from Boston College and a master's degree in gifted and talented education from the Johns Hopkins University.
She taught in the Boston, Tennessee and Stamford, Conn., public school systems before moving to Howard County.
A memorial service was held yesterday at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, where she was a member.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her sons, Justin and Evan Chapman, both of Ellicott City; her parents, Robert and Nancy Trone of Sprucehead, Maine; two sisters, Linda Trone of Camden, Maine, and Cynthia Trone Berger of Burlington, Vt.; four nieces; and one nephew.