The news this morning was filled with the story of a Washington, DC principal who had been shot to death in his home. It was a horrible story. The principal hadn’t shown up for work or meetings and a colleague went to the house to check on him…only to discover the worst. That principal’s name was Brian Betts and he was a hometown boy who grew up in Westgate, off of Lomond South. He went to Loch Lomond Elementary and graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in 1985. He was popular, was in plays and musicals and served as student body president. Brian went on to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was on the cheerleading squad.
Brian was lured away from a Montgomery County to a troubled school in the District, Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee spoke very highly of him tonight. He was wildly popular with students, faculty and parents according to sources. He brought an energy to his new job assignment and was often seen out on the street talking to his kids. According to the Washington Post:
Some, including Rhee, wondered how Betts’s school would carry on without him.
“With him, potentially more than any other principal in this city, these children are going to be devastated because they have such an intense relationship with him,” she said. “I never talked to Brian at any point where he didn’t have kids with him.”
Brian Betts is survived by his parents, Doris and Delbert Betts of Florida and his sister, Jennifer Betts Altomare. Many people from this area remember Brian as a decent, fun-loving young man. His students remembered him tonight as Mr. Betts, who made learning real and personal and most importantly, made them feel special. Westgate remembers Brian. Manassas remembers Brian. What a horrible shame!
UpDate: Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s statement on the death of Brian Betts
The unexpected death of Brian Betts is unspeakably tragic for his family, for the Shaw Middle School community, and for all of DC Public Schools.
Brian Betts had the courage to take on the leadership of a struggling, underachieving DCPS school. He came in the 2008-2009 school year and he brought enthusiasm, love and high expectations for the 300 students at Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson.
He was an inspirational leader for the teachers and for the students, and that leadership was bringing results. He knew what the children under his care were capable of, and he was determined to show them how to get there.
Brian Betts’ death is an incredible loss of a young and dedicated school leader. I considered him a colleague and friend, and my own sense of loss is deep.
I want to extend my deepest sympathies to Brian’s family, and to the family he has built at Shaw
The family will receive friends from 6:00-9:00 P.M. Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at Pierce Funeral Home, 9609 Center Street, Manassas, Virginia. Private services will be held Thursday, April 22, 2010 followed by burial at Stonewall Memory Gardens, Manassas.