Anne C. Chambers, a career educator who was the co-founder of Indian Creek School in Anne Arundel County, died Oct. 12 from complications of diabetes at her daughter-in-law’s home in Fairplay, Washington County. The former Annapolis and Denton resident was 80.
“Anne was one of a kind,” said Rebecca Randolph, who cofounded Indian Creek School with Ms. Chambers and served for many years as Lower School head, in a statement announcing her death. “[Anne’s] spirit, talent, and generosity will live on in all of the children who made Indian Creek their home — and in faculty, staff, and administration who had the privilege of working with her. She will be missed but remembered with great fondness.”
Jane R. Snider, of Annapolis, was an educator and longtime friend.
“She was a dynamite woman and bigger than life. She was just a woman who loved kids, and she wanted to help kids who had learning differences and those who marched to the beat of a different drummer. She had a real passion for that,” said Dr. Snider, founder of the Summit School.
The two women got to know each other in 1982 when Dr. Snider opened a consulting practice in Annapolis that worked with children who had difficulty learning how to read.
“I went to all the independent schools, and after being with Anne for two hours, we became fast friends,” Dr. Snider recalled. “And over the years, she sent lots of students to me, and I sent lots of students to her school.”
Bruce Crossman began teaching at the school in 1981, and headed the Middle School from 1990 to 2017.
“Anne was just an epic human being, and we rode the wave together,” said Mr. Crossman, a Glen Burnie resident, who is now director of campus connections. “Indian Creek was a good place to grow professionally, and her goal was to keep everyone moving forward. It really was my Camelot.”
The former Anne Coleman, daughter of Tracy Coleman Sr., a construction company owner, and his wife, Virginia Coleman, was born in Baltimore and raised in Colesville.
After graduating from Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and began teaching in Prince George’s County public schools, where she became acquainted with Rebecca “Becky” Randolph, a fellow teacher.
In 1973, Ms. Chambers received a gift of land from her parents, and with her brother, Tracy Coleman Jr., and Ms. Randolph, established Indian Creek School in Crownsville on 114 acres that had been a tobacco farm owned by the Durner family.
It was Ms. Chambers’s brother who oversaw the construction of the school building and later was director of its physical plant and transportation director.
Indian Creek School opened its doors in 1973 in a 5,000-square-foot building on Evergreen Road, with 33 students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade. Four years later, Ms. Chambers opened a middle school that doubled its capacity, and finally added an upper school in 2006.
“Our intent is simply to make our students competent to go into whatever they want to go into,” Ms. Chambers explained in a 1981 Baltimore Sun interview. “Perhaps the college-preparatory emphasis here is not as strong as at certain Baltimore independent schools.”
Ms. Chambers was known in the world of education for her human development curriculum that recognized and met children’s specific needs and for stressing civil discourse, which she felt was a major component of lifelong success and citizenship.
From the early days of her school, she implemented a day care program that extended into the evening for middle schoolers.
“She was always straightforward, and kids responded to her honesty and her sincerity and how much she cared,” Mr. Crossman said in a biographical profile of Ms. Chambers. “She was always real about where kids were and what they needed to grow and develop in a healthy way.”
Current head of the Upper School, Matt McCormick, explained in the profile, that one of her strong suits was recognizing potential in students, faculty and people generally.
“Her ability to see potential in people is unmatched,” he said. “Anne’s belief in me — and in any teacher she hired — made us just like her students over the years. Because she believed in us, so too we believed in ourselves. What a gift.”
Ms. Chambers was also known for amassing one-liners such as, “The camel’s nose is under the tent” and “Hire good people, and then get out of their way.”
“She said, ‘I have three acres behind my school which you can use,’ and so we could open on time.” Dr. Snider said. “So, we were able to get county approval and put our trailers there. She saved my life and was just an enormously generous person."
Summit School later moved to a large farm in Upper Marlboro and eventually to Edgewater, where it has operated since 1995.
A lover of music, Ms. Chambers was a longtime singer with the Annapolis Chorale and incorporated that love of the arts into an educational component of her school.
She stepped down as head of school in 2010, and spent her final year in the classroom teaching human development, before retiring in 2011.
A private burial was held with her family, and plans for a celebration of life service in 2021 are incomplete.
She is survived by a son, Kenny Chambers of Park City, Utah; her brother, Tracy “Punky” Coleman Jr. of Crownsville; her daughter-in-law, Donna Moore of Fairplay; and three grandchildren. A marriage to Bill Chambers ended in divorce.