Class of 1969 • Inducted 2022
Ruthie Bomba attended Bethany Lutheran Church and School and Lutheran High School West. She met John Pangrace at age 14, who she married after college in 1973. After high school, Ruth briefly attended Cooper School of Art, then enrolled at Cleveland State, knowing that being a teacher was her calling.
Her career began as an art teacher in Cuyahoga Heights. Ruth then taught art and was a classroom Pre-K-8th-grade teacher at Lakewood Lutheran, Bethany, St. Thomas, West Park, and St. Paul Westlake. Ruth was also a graduate assistant at Cleveland State in the science department, which led to her Master’s in Gifted & Talented Education and a 10-year stint teaching post-graduate classes in CSU’s Gifted & Talented Department. She is dedicated to meeting the spiritual, social and emotional needs—as well as the academic needs—of exceptional students.
At St. Paul Westlake, Ruth began REACH, a program for students identified as gifted and talented. In addition to having access to a higher-level curriculum, the students participated in the Ohio Center for Law Related Education Youth for Justice project and competition in Columbus. During that time, Ruth collaborated with Bethany teacher Ed Ristau to create Arts Seminar. This program brought together Lakewood Lutheran and St. Paul students to create chapel dramas, combining writing, theater, art, and music instruction. The chapel dramas were then presented at area Lutheran elementary schools.
In 2002, Ruth began working as an Intervention Specialist for Lakewood Schools. She taught self-contained classes of identified students at Emerson, Lincoln, and Harding Middle School. Also at Lakewood, Ruth coached Academic Challenge teams, Classroom of Champions, OCLRE Project Citizen, Youth for Justice, Power of the Pen, and Middle School Mock Trial. Many of these teams won state championships during those years. She organized Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Days and assisted in Drama Club productions.
Ruth was named a Jennings Scholar in 2004, Harding Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2008, Lakewood City Schools Teacher of the Year in 2014, and won the Martha Holden Jennings Master Teacher Award in 2014.
The Martha Holden Jennings award made it possible for Ruth to create the HIROS program (Helping Immigrants and Refugees Obtain Support) in the Lakewood schools. Her students befriended refugee students in elementary and middle schools for three years. They engaged in tutoring, mentoring, sharing their cultures’ foods and games, and exploring Cleveland together on field trips. HIROS had a significant impact on the relationships among young people from different cultures.
Ruth served on the board of Rocky River Community Theater for 5 years, appearing in several productions. This experience sparked an interest in performance, which led to becoming an actress/educator for the non-profit group Women in History for 20 years. Ruth continues to be on the board of Women in History, serving as secretary and is in charge of scheduling. She currently portrays 12 notable American women in costume and character, in addition to portraying Mary, Katie Luther and Old Testament Ruth. She enjoys sharing women’s stories with audiences of all ages in churches, schools, civic groups, libraries, and festivals. After retirement, Ruth volunteers at the Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants, a ministry of Building Hope in the City, as a tutor, child care worker and art teacher. She has taken additional ELL and Multicultural Learning courses from Laverne and Ashland University. As a CYC Wet Hen sailor and skipper, she began H2O, a Help to Others opportunity for CYC women to support the Hope Center of BHITC through volunteerism and donations. Ruth also volunteers with Meals on Wheels and helps in the local schools as a Power of the Pen judge, Destination
Imagination volunteer, and National History Day coach.
Ruth and John live in Rocky River and are grateful that all three of their wonderful children and three granddaughters live nearby.