RUFFIN, BERNIECE WORTHINGTON (18 Mar. 1916-26 June 1998) became the first African-American supervisor at the Cleveland Board of Education's downtown administration building in 1964. She was born in Wren, Ohio, to Louis W. and Leona Worthington. Her father was a farmer. In 1938, Ruffin graduated from Wilberforce University, where she joined the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Upon graduation, Ruffin did postgraduate work at the University of Cincinnati and earned a master's degree from Western Reserve University (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY). In Cleveland, Ruffin taught at Gladstone, Case-Woodland and Anthony Wayne elementary schools from 1943-1952, at which point she became principal at Clara Morris Elementary School. She later held the same post at Harmon, Bolton and Wade Park elementary schools before being appointed directing principal of the 43-elementary school east district. She remained in that position through her retirement in 1975.
In her nine years as director of the east district, Ruffin helped revise curricula in social studies and mathematics and studied education methods in the United States and abroad. In 1966, she received a foundation grant to observe schools in Leicester, England. A year later, she studied ways to improve inner-city schools in a summer institute at Bank Street College in New York City.
In 1970, she married Sammie Ruffin and joined Mount Olive Baptist Church. Ruffin died following a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer's disease and is buried in Cleveland at LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.