A Cairo elementary school principal lauded by many died at her home during the weekend.
Lateesha Faulk Clinton, 38, died late Saturday night or early Sunday morning at her residence.
Clinton was in her first year as principal at Southside Elementary School, having served as Southside assistant principal from 2007 to 2012.
She was Southside Teacher of the Year in 2003, and also taught in Dougherty County.
A member of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Cairo, she was a graduate of Morris Brown College, University of Phoenix and Nova Southeastern University.
Clinton and her husband, Dr. Zerric Clinton, a Cairo High School teacher, have two children, Makaya, 12, and Andrew, 4.
Kristi Sallee, Clinton’s secretary, recalled attending Cairo High School classes with Clinton, who was homecoming queen.
“She was a wonderful colleague, a wonderful role model,” Sallee said Monday. She said Clinton knew students by name, their relatives and where they lived.
“She was the kind of person you always saw laughing and having a good time,” said Scott Higginbotham, Grady County Board of Education vice chairman.
Rusty Powe, Grady County coroner, said the death was from natural causes, although the exact cause of death has not been determined. An autopsy is to be performed.
Teachers, parents, central office staff and school system administrators met at the school Sunday. Counselors have been made available to students, faculty and staff.
Teachers talked to students about Clinton’s death in individual classrooms Monday. Several students requested one-on-one time with counselors, said Wanda Chester, Southside instructional coordinator.
Chester described Clinton as “a people person.” “She made decisions with her heart that were best for the people,” Chester said.
“ ... The community lost a special lady,” Chester added.
Dr. Tommy Pharis, Grady County School System superintendent, said Clinton has been described as “the real deal.”
Clinton, he said, was a unique individual, who loved children, Southside school, her family, faculty and staff.
“She was very good at what she did. ... Everyone she worked with loved her dearly,” the superintendent said.