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Portrait Project: Ida Daniel-Dark

Dr. Ida Daniel Dark

“Everything is right here at The Forest—fitness, people to talk with… I don’t have to go anyplace to find what I need.”

A retired educator with three advanced degrees in music and a sizable list of accolades to her name, Dr. Ida Daniel Dark is as genuine as her résumé is long. An education professional for more than 35 years, Ida spent her career teaching music to students from all walks of life, including special learners, ranging in age from kindergarten through graduate school. She stepped onto the education scene in the early 1960s, during which time she served as a transitional teacher, bridging the racial gap at the onset of school integration.

For her influence on her students, Ida was named Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year in 1985. In the 10th Anniversary Gallery of Greats calendar, published in 1988 by Miller Brewing Company to highlight influential Black educators across the country, Ida’s quote spoke volumes about her impact on the communities in which she worked: “To educate children and guide them toward an intellectual, social, and ethical maturity is one of the greatest responsibilities a human being can undertake.” Five years later, in 1993, Ida’s contributions to the academic world at large were further recognized when she became the first African American and the first music educator to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Emporia, Kansas. By this time, she had served a fruitful career in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (Charlotte, NC), Yonkers Public Schools (Yonkers, NY), Philadelphia Public School System (Philadelphia, PA), and Temple University (Philadelphia, PA).

After retirement, Ida found her initial connection with The Forest through an established resident she regularly escorted to their shared Tuesday Morning Study Group. Later, she further increased her familiarity with the community via Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s (OLLI) class about Aging in Place or in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) with about 30 others. Ultimately, she chose to move into The Forest at Duke in September 2018, a decision that satisfies her to this day.

Dr. Ida Daniel Dark—impressed by our meal options, ample parking, robust offering of activities, and the noteworthy experiences of fellow residents—brings her own inspiring experiences to our campus: a legacy of dedication to the nation’s children that continues to ripple far and wide.

Forest resident since 2018