Katherine F. Ingwersen, 50, a Falls Church High School English and journalism teacher who taught in the Fairfax County public school system for 21 years, died Dec. 29 at her home in Alexandria.

She had cancer, said her husband, Fred Underwood.

Mrs. Ingwersen, known as “Katie,” taught English and journalism at Falls Church High School from 2004 until May of last year. She expanded the school’s newspaper to 12 from four pages and paired local professional journalists with her students through Prime Movers Media, a George Washington University mentorship program.

Previously, she taught at Annandale High School and was instrumental in bringing the Cappies, a high school critics and awards program, to the school.

Katherine Fairchild Ingwersen was a native of Winnetka, Ill., and 1984 English graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa. She received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1987.

She spent three years as a policy analyst at the National Association of Realtors in Evanston, Ill.,before moving to Washington in 1993.

She was co-president of the Charles Barrett Elementary School Parent Teacher Association in Alexandria and helped local teachers receive certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Her memberships included the Fairfax Education Association and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Survivors include her husband of 26 years, Fred Underwood, and their two daughters, Madeline Underwood and Amelia Underwood, all of Alexandria; her parents, Gordon and Mary Lou Ingwersen of Winnetka; and two sisters.

— Megan McDonough