What to Know
A New Jersey high school principal known for his “endlessly positive attitude” has died
The principal, Derrick Nelson, passed away on Sunday.
The student newspaper reported he donated bone marrow to a 14-year-old boy in France just months ago
A New Jersey high school principal known for his “endlessly positive attitude” has died — just months after he reportedly donated bone marrow to save a teenage boy’s life.
Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson passed away on Sunday, Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Dolan said in a letter sent out to parents on Monday.
The school, citing respect for the family’s privacy, did not disclose the principal's cause of death.
“It is with profound sadness and great difficulty that I announce Westfield High School principal Dr. Derrick Nelson died last night,” Dolan wrote. “Dr. Nelson touched us all with his kindness, compassion, integrity, and endlessly positive attitude.”
“We hold him and his family in our hearts as we grieve this loss together and I know you join me in granting his family the privacy they have requested,” she added.
An article published in the school’s student newspaper in February said Nelson underwent a procedure to donate bone marrow to a 14-year-old boy in France after a donor program contacted him saying he might be a match.
Current and former students said Nelson was known for his tough love.
“[He was] always present, with all the students, and very welcoming with all the parents,” parent Allison Earnst said.
“When I was walking across the stage graduating and getting my diploma, he just gave me a big hug,” a recent graduate recalled. “He just really cares about his students and seeing them succeed.”
The school will be offering counseling for its students starting Tuesday morning, Dolan said.