In Remembrance of a Beloved Educator and Friend: Dr. Susan Crim-McClendon

As the daughter of Dr. Alonzo A. Crim — the first African-American superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools — and as a lifelong educator, Dr. Susan Crim-McClendon more than upheld her family’s revered legacy, but she created one of her own. As principal of Woodson Park Academy in the Douglass Cluster and a middle school teacher in APS, Dr. Crim-McClendon was a model leader, motivator and friend.

Today, we mourn. Dr. Crim-McClendon passed away in her sleep last night. The Woodson Park community and all of us in APS are deeply saddened by the news.

I cannot begin to express what an incredible loss her passing brings to APS and the Woodson Park community. Dr. Crim-McClendon brought a great legacy and love for education to APS and this school. That love was instilled in her as a child of educator parents. Her father’s belief in a “Community of Believers” and work toward the education of all Atlanta’s children directly informed his daughter’s work.

In 1976, she graduated from the former Northside High School in APS and attended college at the University of Georgia. Although she earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science and pre-veterinary medicine, she soon followed in her parents’ footsteps. She began her teaching career in Athens and Valdosta, teaching science to seventh graders. She would teach middle school in several metro Atlanta school districts, including APS at Long Middle School. She earned her master’s degree in middle childhood education and later her doctorate in urban education from Georgia State.

In 2002, she joined Georgia State University and served for several years as associate director for the Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Education Excellence, where she led professional development for middle school teachers.

She returned to APS in 2010 as a model teacher and became principal of Woodson Primary in 2011.

When Dr. Crim-McClendon welcomed me to APS five years ago and offered kind guidance, I listened; and it helped me adjust more quickly as superintendent.

When we needed to do more for our children in the Douglass Cluster, she did everything she could to ensure the school would succeed. I could not have been more thrilled when she accepted her new role as principal of the new Woodson Park Academy in 2016 to lead the transformative work planned for that school.

Her love of children could not be more evident. She started every school day with a special greeting she borrowed from Kenyan Maasai warriors: How are the children? Answer: All the children are well. She toiled every day on behalf of Woodson Park children so the collective Woodson Park response stayed focused on the wellbeing of every child.

Today, as we mourn our beloved friend, mentor, colleague and principal, I take some comfort because she has left us a beautiful legacy just like her father. Woodson Park is strong and resilient due to the tireless work of Dr. Susan Crim-McClendon.

We’ll miss you, Susan.

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