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Remembering Dez-Ann Romain, A High School Principal Who Died Of COVID-19 At 36

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

We want to spend the next minute or so remembering one of the many people who have died as a result of the coronavirus. Dez-Ann Romain lived in New York City.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

She was 36, a beloved principal at an alternative high school, the Brooklyn Democracy Academy. Romain loved being principal.

CHANG: She decorated the school with inspirational quotes and kept fresh flowers in her office. She took the time to learn the backstories of every single student.

KELLY: And colleagues say she considered each of those students her personal responsibility.

CHANG: Last week, dozens of teachers, students, and friends gathered over a video chat for a virtual candlelight vigil. Curtis Turney told the group he had Romain for art class before she became principal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CURTIS TURNEY: She taught us how to become men and women. She taught us how to be leaders in our own life. She was understanding and tough at the same time, which made her so relatable. Ms. Romain, after graduating from high school, became more than just a former teacher to most of us but a great friend and, most of all, a hero to so many of us.

KELLY: Romain came to New York from Trinidad as a teen, and she was open about the struggles she faced in school. It was something a lot of kids connected with.

CHANG: In a video from last year's graduation ceremony, Romain gave a commencement speech in a room full of balloons and students wearing purple and white gowns.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

DEZ-ANN ROMAIN: Understand that you are great in your own right, and don't let anybody ever make you feel less than.

KELLY: Brooklyn principal Dez-Ann Romain - she was 36.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.