Making Ripples with Red Pens

Cregg Ingram's legacy has rippled through generations.

When a pebble is thrown in water it disrupts the stillness of the surface causing a ripple effect across the water. Just as a single pebble can create this effect, the actions of an individual can have far-reaching effects. This is true of former professor Cregg Ingram, who impacted the lives of many people. Although he has passed away, his legacy lives on and continues to change lives.

Ingram
Cregg Ingram

Ingram was born in Lehi, Utah, on August 31, 1942. He grew up struggling with dyslexia, a disorder that makes letters seem out of order when reading. Because of the difficulties that came with his learning disability, he didn’t graduate from high school. Despite this obstacle, Ingram was determined to find a way to succeed. At the age of 17 he joined the army and served for four years. During his time in the army, he put in extra hours to obtain his GED. After the army he continued his schooling and earned his doctorate of education from the University of Kentucky and started his career as a professor in education psychology at the BYU McKay School of Education.

The current associate dean of the McKay School, Tina Dyches, gave insight into what it was like to work with Ingram. Before they became coworkers, Dyches was one of Ingram’s students at BYU. In 1995, after receiving her doctorate, Dyches came back to the McKay School to work. Although their relationship changed, Ingram never treated Dyches like she was below him. She shared, “He treated everyone like equals! He didn’t act like he knew everything [even though] he probably did know a lot more than we did. He really accepted us and brought us into the team.”

Ingram
Ingram showing his fun loving personality at his retirement party.

When asked about what she remembers most about Ingram, she said, “He was all about improvement and helping other people.” Dyches has a unique perspective on Ingram because she saw him interact in the classroom and in the workplace. Dyches said that in both settings “he brought humor, creativity, and thinking outside of the box.” If there was ever a time where there was a conflict between a student’s learning process and the rules, he always stood by his belief that the students came first.

When Ingram passed away, Dyches was in charge of cleaning out his desk. She gave the contents to his family and friends, but she kept one item for herself—a red pen. Although a pen might seem insignificant, it meant the world to Dyches. “He loved this red pen. He would mark everything up and wasn’t afraid to critique you honestly and help you improve,” Dyches recalled. “To me, this pen represents that he loved every person and wanted them to become the very best teacher possible.”

Another former student of Ingram who was well acquainted with his red pen was Patti Ratliff. She said, “I was a straight A student in graduate school, and he gave me a B+. He was hard!” Although he was a demanding teacher, many students didn’t think he was unfair. In fact, Ratliff said, “I was honored. . . . His most famous quote in grad school was ‘I don’t care if you fail my class, but I would rather do that than have any child mislabeled’” Because of his high expectations, Ratliff feels he touched many lives.

When Ratliff graduated from the McKay School she started teaching elementary school. One mother named Kristin McQuivey said that Ratliff “changed [her son’s] life” when she was his second-and third-grade teacher. McQuivey’s son, Cade, had a difficult time going to school because he struggled with type 1 diabetes. Between insulin shots and dietary precautions, he needed special attention and care at school. Ratliff took a particular interest in helping Cade. McQuivey said, “Patti was my teammate in making sure Cade was safe and healthy.”

Along with his medical issues, Cade also had “the world’s worst handwriting!” according to his mother. She watched as Ratliff completely transformed his handwriting skills through compliments, encouragement, and persistence.

Patty and Cade
Ratliff (right) surprising Cade at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

After Cade finished second grade, Ratliff transferred grades and taught third grade so she could continue to work with Cade and address his needs. Ratliff understood what it was like to always be on the student’s side, just like her teacher and mentor Cregg Ingram had taught her.

Recently, when Patti Ratliff retired from teaching, she reflected on her teaching experiences on Facebook. One of these statuses was a touching tribute to Ingram. In it, she expressed her gratitude for the SPED program at BYU and the opportunity she had to learn from such wonderful teachers.

Kristin McQuivey commented on the status saying, “I’m so grateful you were that kind of teacher Patti!” Then she tagged her former college roommate, Dani, who was the daughter of Cregg Ingram. With the tag, McQuivey said, “Dani, I thought you would enjoy this shout-out to your dad! Makes me so grateful for him too, as this amazing teacher he taught was Cade’s teacher and changed his life.” Then she went on to say that Dani was one of her favorite roommates and an incredible teacher as well, carrying on her father’s legacy.

This quick Facebook exchange revealed that Cregg Ingram’s teaching style and beliefs created a ripple effect that have influenced generations beyond his own, making a positive impact on all involved.

Ingram’s example teaches us how important it is to look at our own lives and ponder the positive or negative ripple effects our actions have on others. What impact will you decide to leave on the world?

 

Writer: Ashley Hamblin

 

Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422-8562