Angela B. Calamari, the retired principal of Seton Keough High School, who earlier headed an East Baltimore parochial school, died of cancer June 19 at her Mount Airy home. The former Ellicott City resident was 69.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was the daughter of Angelo Masino, a postal worker, and his wife, Frances, a homemaker. She was a 1968 graduate of St. Helena’s High School for Girls in the Bronx and earned a sociology and education degree at Queens College. She received a master’s degree from what is now Loyola University Maryland.
After a time as a social worker, she gave up that career, having become frustrated by governmental red tape. She told friends she thought she could do more good by teaching, After moving to Ellicott City in 1983, she began her classroom work at the Church of the Resurrection-St. Paul School, where she founded its kindergarten program. She started with a single section for 20 children, and her program grew into two sections.
She remained interested in social justice issues and began working at St. Ambrose Roman Catholic parish on Park Heights Avenue in an outreach center.
“When people didn’t have a job or a home, Angela was present for them 100 percent,” said a friend, Ruth Puls of Ellicott City. “She had a sense of joy — her laugh was the loudest in the room — and also had a sense of the sorrows of the world. It was her sense of joy that allowed her to address the sorrows.”
She went on to be the director of the GED program at St. Ambrose and worked with the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s Success for All science curriculum.
In a 2001 Sun article, she said her time in New York prepared her for working in Baltimore’s poor neighborhoods. She said she grew up in a tough neighborhood and lived in a no-frills family apartment. She knew the problems of poverty in the city and knew not to go in as “Lady Bountiful tossing coins from her carriage to the poor.”
As a volunteer at the St. Ambrose Center, she helped with an adult literacy program, after-school tutoring for teenagers, summer camp for children, and health care for the homeless.
She found that the Outreach Center needed a van for the summer camp, health care centers and job interviews for the center's clients.
“Calamari, who keeps telling her students and her children that nothing is impossible, thought maybe she could put together enough money for a used van,” said a 2001 Sun article. “She started by approaching the parish council, whose members, unbeknown to her, had been discussing a $15,000 surplus shortly before she entered the meeting. Calamari went in and described [the] ...need. The council members gave her the $15,000.”
“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” she said.
She was also involved with her church’s social justice committee in enlisting the talents of Resurrection Church members to help St. Ambrose buy and renovate two houses in Baltimore to be rented to low-income families.
Mrs. Calamari said social service was connected to teaching, and to her efforts to have youngsters learn about sharing and helping others. “It carries over with love and Christian values,” she said.
Her daughter said Mrs. Calamari, when she felt her kindergarten in Ellicott City was established, decided to become the principal of St. Katharine of Siena School in East Baltimore at Milton Avenue and Rose Street.
“Teaching in the city brought her two backgrounds together — social justice and education. She loved that job,” said her daughter, Laura Ann Calamari of Mount Airy.
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Linda Howard, a friend from Howard County, recalled how Ms. Calamari handled her time at St. Katharine.
“She did not like it that drug dealers were operating on the corner that her students passed every day,” Ms. Howard said. “She went out and addressed the dealers and said, ‘I understand that your business has to go on, but can you give me an hour a day?’ They agreed.”
After heading St. Katharine, Mrs. Calamari became principal of Seton Keough High School on Caton Avenue in Southwest Baltimore, where she served until her retirement.
In 2001 she was honored by the National Catholic Education Association as a Distinguished Teacher.
A Mass of Christian burial was offered June 24 at St. Michael Catholic Church in Mount Airy, where she was a member, assisting in opening a parish preschool and working in social justice outreach.