Family of beloved Paterson high school principal creates scholarship fund in his honor

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The family of a beloved New Jersey high school principal who died of COVID, is now establishing a scholarship fund in his honor.

On May 3, 2020, COVID claimed the life of a champion of children -- Dr. Gerald Glisson, Eastside High School's Principal of Operations. But Dr. Glisson was so much more.

"I loved him. The whole family ... I'm just really happy for this," said Khaayla Wright of East Side High School class of 2021.

"Today is about keeping the legacy of Dr. Glisson alive," Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer said. "As principal of operations, Dr. Glisson was making an impact on young people so that they could realize their hopes, dreams, aspirations for the future. This scholarship fund will help carry on Dr. Glisson's dedication to young people by providing valuable assistance to the young people who are awarded the scholarship."

Dr. Glisson sliced through boundaries that he reasoned did not serve his students well, dialing back punishment tactics for peace solutions.

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One of Glisson's hallmarks at the high school is called the Restorative Justice Center. Instead of suspending a kid for getting into trouble, they stay and learn conflict resolution in the perfect environment.

Reporter Jim Dolan introduced Eyewitness News viewers to Eastside's peace room, courtesy of the man who chose to take a different route.

Shafer welcomed members of Glisson's family to Eastside High School, including his widow, Michelle, and his daughters, Sydney and Skylar.

Michelle and her daughters created a scholarship in Dr. Glisson's honor, awarding the first two scholarships to two of the high school's recent athlete graduates turned college students.

Sydney Glisson announced those recipients as graduates, Alberto Torres and Khaayla Wright, who each received $600 scholarships from the fund.

Alberto Torres, a freshman at St. Elizabeth University, excelled in his studies and soccer.

He was a standout on Eastside's boys volleyball team. Last April, he scored his 1,000th assist of his high school career - a remarkable achievement made even more remarkable given that the pandemic cancelled the volleyball season during his junior year.

"When I got a call from my coach saying I was selected ... I was really crying," Torres said.

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The other was Wright, now a Montclair State University freshman.

Wright was a four-year starter on Eastside's Varsity softball team, and was the rare combination of an effective pitcher with a .350 batting average. She was named to the All-League Team in her senior year and earned a 3.5 grade point average in high school.

"For me to get this ... it really means a lot," Wright said.

Sydney Glisson is a rising sophomore at Delaware State University, her parents' alma mater.

She's a proud daughter who wants to foster the values her father taught her, her sister and hundreds of other youngsters.

"It was always what do you need, what can I do for you, he was that type of person. And he was always there for anyone who needed him," she said.


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