Warning: file_exists(): File name is longer than the maximum allowed path length on this platform (260): C:\zpanel\hostdata\zadmin\public_html\forexbr_com_br/wp-content/cache/supercache/www.forexbr.com.br/2020/03/30/their-stories-more-than-a-principal-dez-ann-romain-is-first-known-new-york-city-public-schools-staffer-to-die-from-the-coronavirus/meta-wp-cache-4e961e8306c20183506afd7f6c0fe597.php in C:\zpanel\hostdata\zadmin\public_html\forexbr_com_br\wp-content\plugins\wp-super-cache\wp-cache-phase2.php on line 71 Their Stories: ‘More than a principal’: Dez-Ann Romain is first known New York City Public Schools staffer to die from the coronavirus – Forex Brasil

Their Stories: ‘More than a principal’: Dez-Ann Romain is first known New York City Public Schools staffer to die from the coronavirus

Brooklyn Democracy Academy
Dez-Ann Romain.

Dez-Ann Romain was the kind of principal who was just as likely to dance down a red carpet to entertain her students as she was to hold their feet to the fire over grades and attendance.

Romain, 36, who was principal of Brooklyn Democracy Academy (BDA) in Brownsville, Brooklyn, died on March 23 from complications from the coronavirus, Department of Education officials said.

Hers was the first known death of a public schools employee in New York City from the virus. New York City public school students and teachers, who started remote-learning after schools shut down March 16 because of the outbreak, reeled at the news of Romain’s passing.

“Ms. Romain was more than a principal, she was a second mother to not only me but the whole school,” says Danny Rendon, 19, who graduated last year. During his time at Brooklyn Democracy Academy, his own mother underwent brain surgery. “Personally I was going through a rough time … but Ms. Romain was very understanding and offered me help,” he says.

Tributes streamed onto social media and a virtual vigil Wednesday evening brought together at least 100 mourners on a Zoom video conference call. Romain’s sister, Delicia, said through tears that her family was “celebrating rather than mourning the exuberance and personality that was Dez-Ann Romain.”

One colleague described Romain as a “warrior with a cause” who was candid with students about her early struggles after she immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago to the U.S. as a young woman. Her ability to relate endeared her to her students, many of whom are immigrants themselves or have parents who are. BDA is a transfer high school that serves a mostly black and Hispanic population of students who have struggled in traditional school settings.

“Too many in our society have written off the young scholars under her stewardship, but where others saw problems, she saw promise and potential,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in a statement.

Romain helped launch a first-of-its-kind urban farming program in which students grow fresh produce for Brooklynites in need. While she set high expectations, academic excellence wasn’t her only priority. She was known to help students do their hair and offered money from her own pocket to those in dire circumstances. And she was a vital source of empathy to the teens and teachers she worked with.

Janice Lawrence-Clarke, a Brooklyn-based fashion consultant who worked as a substitute teacher at the school for two years, said she turned to Romain for guidance after a challenging incident with a student.

“She said, ‘You know Janice, [students] may have people speaking roughly to them at home, so the best approach is to not get frustrated with them and to try a different perspective. Try the softer, kinder approach so that you’re able to be more understanding and listen to them,’” Lawrence-Clarke recalls. “It gave me the calm that I needed at that time.”

Romain’s last day at work was March 12, and she was hospitalized March 18 for pneumonia, according to education officials. On March 20, Brooklyn Democracy Academy notified its community in a letter that there was a self-reported case of Covid-19 within the school.

Videos and photos posted by relatives, students, and colleagues show an energetic, smiling principal dancing with students and strutting down a red carpet in stilettos and a red tracksuit during a Valentine’s Day fashion show the school held in February.

Kristen Volonakis-Rowland, an assistant principal who worked with Romain at another school, wrote in a Facebook post that she was “a role model of assertiveness and fierceness.”

“She was an incredible Special Education teacher, & so extremely talented,” she wrote. “Outside of the classroom you would find her dancing, sewing costumes for a talent show, or sewing material to decorate a room for a school dance.”

Mourners from Brooklyn Democracy Academy started a new Instagram account to share glimpses of student life under Romain’s leadership.

In one video from last year’s graduation ceremony, students assemble in purple and white gowns, the room decorated in colorful balloons, as their principal delivers a passionate commencement address.

“Understand that you are great in your own right,” Romain said, “and don’t let anybody ever make you feel less than.”

Romain’s survivors include her sister.