In Tribute: Michele Tucker Jeffery ’68
Sidwell Friends School is mourning the loss of a remarkable alumna, parent, and staff member whose 41-year tenure with the School touched the lives of two generations of students and their families and made an indelible impact on her colleagues.
Michele Tucker Jeffery ’68 died on June 20 at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, surrounded by family, following a short illness. She was 72 years old.
Michele, or Shelley as she was best known to her friends at Sidwell, was born in Akron, Ohio on June 14, 1950, the daughter of Sterling and Alloyce (Robinson) Tucker. Her father was a noted civil rights activist, politician, and appointed Federal government official who died in 2019 at the age of 95.
The family moved to Washington, DC when Shelley was seven. She attended public elementary and middle schools but enrolled as a 9th grader at Sidwell Friends Upper School at the urging of her mother in 1964. Her first day of school was also the opening of the newly completed Upper School, and she later recalled walking across wooden planks to enter the building because the outside stairs were not yet finished. More memorably, she was one of a small number of Black students enrolled at the time. She reflected in later years the challenges that posed, but also the warmth which she was received by so many at the School that shaped her life.
Shelley graduated in 1968 as a member of only the second class at Sidwell to graduate Black students. She attended Simmons College (now Simmons University) in Boston, where she graduated in 1972 with a BA in elementary education.
Just one year later, in the fall of 1973, Shelley returned to Sidwell as a 3rd Grade teacher. She remained at the Lower School for 15 years—teaching kindergarten at least one of those years—before becoming assistant director for Lower School admissions starting in 1989. In 1994 she became assistant director for Admissions and Financial Aid. Shelley remained in the Admissions office for the next two decades before retiring in 2014.
Shelley’s husband, Thomas Jeffrey, died in 1988. She is survived by her son, Jason Jeffrey ’98, her sister, Lauren Tucker ’80, brother-in-law Michael Wilkinson, nephews Matthew and Daniel Cross, and numerous relatives and good friends.
For her colleagues at Sidwell Friends, who worked with her for four decades, Shelley will always be remembered as someone quick with a smile and a laugh, a woman of great compassion and empathy, a voracious reader with limitless curiosity, and a thoughtful and insightful guide to families trying and sometimes struggling to navigate the admissions process.
She will be greatly missed, and the Sidwell Friends community holds her and her family in the Light.
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