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Louise H. Hole taught at Waverly Elementary School from 1950 to 1954 and at Rolling Road School from 1963 to 1966, was vice principal at what was then the Ridge School and Ruxton Center from 1966 to 1970, and was principal at what is now Ridge Ruxton School from 1970 until her retirement in 1992.
Louise H. Hole taught at Waverly Elementary School from 1950 to 1954 and at Rolling Road School from 1963 to 1966, was vice principal at what was then the Ridge School and Ruxton Center from 1966 to 1970, and was principal at what is now Ridge Ruxton School from 1970 until her retirement in 1992.

Louise H. Hole, retired principal of Ridge Ruxton School who considered working with special needs students a highlight of her life, died of smoke inhalation from a Dec. 29 fire that destroyed her Catonsville home. She was 93.

“Louise was a real pioneer in special education in Baltimore County,” said Dr. Robert Y. Dubel of Glen Arm, who headed Baltimore County public schools for 16 years until retiring in 1992. “She is probably one of the most compassionate persons I’ve ever known. She was loved by the students, teachers and parents.”

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Deborah L. Tessier, now a special education professor at Towson University, had been a teacher and an assistant principal at Ridge Ruxton School.

“I taught there for 15 years. She was my mentor and principal,” said Ms. Tessier, a Monkton resident who retired in 2008 from Perry Hall Elementary, where she had been principal. “Louise felt strongly about the population we worked with and was very heartfelt about our students. She was passionate about special education and was extremely intelligent. She was very people smart.”

The former Louise Edna Hyder, daughter of John William Hyder, an electrician, and his wife, Lucille McAlister Hyder, a Westminster Shoe Co. sewing machine operator, was born in Baltimore and raised in Westminster, where she graduated in 1944 from Westminster High School.

She was a 1950 graduate of Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and history, with a minor in education. It was while she was student-teaching at Chevy Chase Junior High School in Montgomery County that Mrs. Hole met what today would be called a special needs student. The meeting changed the course of her professional life.

From 1950 to 1954, she taught at Waverly Elementary School in the city, and was on the faculty of Rolling Road School in Baltimore County from 1963 to 1966, when she was appointed vice principal at what was then the Ridge School and Ruxton Center on West Joppa Road in Ruxton.

“When she started her career at Waverly in 1950, city public schools were a national leader in special education,” said Dr. Dubel, who with his late wife, Helen Dubel, attended what was then Western Maryland College with Mrs. Hole.

In 1967, Mrs. Hole obtained a master’s degree in special education from Loyola College, now Loyola University Maryland. Mrs. Hole was named principal of what is now Ridge Ruxton School in 1970, a position she held until retiring in 1992.

“Baltimore County was lucky to have her at the Ridge School along with Dr. Nancy Grasmick, who headed the Chatsworth School. Both of them were pioneers in curriculum development, job training and placement, and making Baltimore County’s special education program nationally known,” Dr. Dubel said.

Said Ms. Tessier: “She kept up with all the laws involving special education. She supported all the new programs such as the Infant and Toddlers Program that she knew would benefit the students and their families. She thought outside of the box because she set up children through programs to be successful rather than setting them up for failure. She had very high expectations.”

Said Dr. Dubel: “Louise made an effort to place these kids in the community with many finding jobs in retirement communities. She believed they could be productive in entry-level jobs.”

When the Baltimore County public schools population dropped, she expanded her school’s mission into the unused nearby Ruxton Elementary School on Charles Street to better serve her students who ranged in age from the “very little to 21,” Ms. Tessier said.

Mrs. Hole’s daily routine never changed.

“She knew every student and stood in the lobby every morning greeting them,” Ms. Tessier recalled. “She visited every classroom twice a day to make sure everything was OK. She was also in the dining room at lunchtime.”

Mrs. Hole established a bell choir at the school, with Roberta Bleinberger, music teacher for the Ridge School, as its director.

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“They played at commencements, PTA meetings and community events. I had them play for the national superintendents association,” Dr. Dubel said. “They were also nationally known, and a former student who now works at Glen Meadows Retirement Community where I live, told me being a member of the bell choir was the ‘highlight of his life.’”

After a 1973 bell choir performance at a local elementary and high school, Mrs. Hole wrote Ms. Bleinberger a congratulatory letter.

“A lovely dream on its way ... a dream for all human beings to be accepted and appreciated for what they are, for what they can do, and for what they contribute to each other,” Mrs. Hole wrote.

Wrote Ms. Tessier in an email: “Each year at our Ridge School graduation ... she made sure we had a graduation ... sports teams, music groups, quality instruction ... opportunities and access to anything and everything that ALL students had and have. ... She would thank our students for being ‘Good Citizens, Good Workers and Good Friends. ... That is exactly what she was to our students, families ... and all of us on her staff.”

Mrs. Hole’s daughter, Elizabeth McAlister Haynes of Ellicott City, wrote in an email of her mother’s philosophy concerning her Ridge students: “Our devoted mother affirmed the dignity, and encouraged the abilities, of every member of our community.”

Mrs. Hole retired in 1992.

“She had such a thirst for knowledge,” her daughter said in a telephone interview. “She was always reading, studying. In retirement, she discovered gardening and enjoyed spending time with friends. She was very artistic and worked in ceramics, and was an excellent seamstress and needlepoint worker.”

Said Ms. Tessier, who often visited Mrs. Hole, “She was sharp until the day she died.”

Mrs. Hole’s husband of 46 years, Earl Edward Hole Jr., a Baltimore County public schools foreign language teacher, died in 2000.

A memorial service for Mrs. Hole was held Saturday at McNabb Funeral Home in Catonsville.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, Edward Earl Edwards of Catonsville; two grandsons; a great-grandson; and two nieces; and four nephews.

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