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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Dr. Terrance Newton Passes Away: Remembering an irreplaceable Black educator gone too soon

Dr. Terrance Newton, a beloved principal who worked at Warner Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware, succumbed from injuries that he sustained in a motorcycle crash.

When news spread that Newton died on Monday, March 21, 2022, social media overflowed with positive comments about the educator, community leader, role model, friend, and member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity who routinely inspired individuals who crossed his path.

Newton’s legacy is cemented in memories of his ability to bond with youth and touch their lives through acts of compassion. He cared enough to organize Christmas holiday gift drives for families in need. Additionally, his manner of connecting with students by cutting their hair for over a 10-year-period led him to become the recipient of national attention from shows such Good Morning America and NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt according to a Delaware Online article.      

Even when cameras were away from the school, Newton seemed to lead with a heart, sharing tidbits to inspire his students to value their education and to uplift them.

The Delaware State University alumni, was cognizant of how much an education could positively shape a life. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology, then later found his way back to Delaware State to pursue both Masters’ and doctoral degrees. His impactful journey led him to work in several Delaware and Pennsylvania-based schools. He was also employed at a detention center for juvenile criminals, serving as a youth rehabilitation counselor at Ferris School.

“I come from the same communities they come from. I understand the struggles that they go through,” he told Delaware Online/The News Journal in 2015. “Let them know you care.”

Newton felt passionate about becoming a role model for the kids he taught.

Newton held tight to his passion to do just that. He cared about great and small details, down to if his students got their teeth cleaned on time. Starting a dental clinic was also on his agenda, according to NBC10 Philadelphia.

Robert W. Cradle, founder of Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation, Inc., (RBCF) recalls how much the late educator loved his students. Newton showed them through his actions.

“He called them his babies. I believe I first saw him in January 2020 when he was nationally recognized for being a principal who personally provided weekly (free) haircuts for his students. At that time, I was operating a national project called Wahl Stars. The project provided free clippers for individuals who volunteered their time to make grooming services accessible to target populations with barriers to regular hair care,” Cradle said. “When we connected, I told him that I would be willing to assess the grooming needs of his student population and could possibly turn his make-shift hair cutting area into a full-services barber and beauty salon.”

Cradle added that by August that same year, RBCF was able to install a full-service shop on-site. At a later date, Cradle returned to provide an eight-station portable barber/beauty set-up that Newton could use for outdoor events.

“Principal Newton was a positive man, who always had a positive word. His student will miss him dearly,” Cradle said.

Del. Governor John Carney shared similar sentiments about Newton’s passing in a press release. 

“This is such a heart-wrenching loss for our community,” Carney said. “Dr. Newton was everything a school leader should be, and more.  He was selfless, dedicated, enthusiastic and cared so deeply about his students and staff. That was clear every time you walked in the front doors of Warner Elementary.”

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