Hundreds attend vigil for Englewood Public School District principal killed in car crash

CeFaan Kim Image
Thursday, July 11, 2024
Gathering of grief for Englewood principal killed in car crash
CeFaan Kim reports from a vigil in Englewood for a principal killed in a car crash in South Africa.

ENGLEWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey community mourned on Wednesday night, days after a principal was killed in a tragic traffic accident overseas.

The Dr. John Grieco Elementary School building was plastered with images of the late principal's smile.

Reverend Dr. Daniela Small-Bailey, the beloved Englewood Public School District principal, was killed last week in a traffic accident. The collection of broken hearts that were gathered at the school was a testament to the nearly two decades she dedicated to the community.

"She was one who understands us when we are down. Her door was always open," said teacher Dr. Claudette Peterkin.

On Wednesday night, they kept the door open for her.

Several hundred attended a vigil in the sweltering heat, wiping away bitter tears mixed with salty beads of sweat.

Current students grieved, while former students mourned. Parents, teachers and Small-Bailey's sorority sisters were suffocated in pain.

Dr. Small-Bailey and her oldest son were killed in a head-on automobile collision on the Fourth of July in South Africa, where she was visiting her two grandchildren. She leaves behind two young children in New Jersey.

"Keep living. Keep living way up beyond the sky," Tanika Williams said.

Williams is Small-Bailey's youngest sister and best friend.

"She's from Trinidad. I'm going back to my mom. My mom came from Trinidad with basically nothing, but we grew, and she instilled in us that education changes things," Williams said. "So, since we know that she gave that to her students. Education is big and it changes your life."

Former Vice Principal Dr. Noel Gordon, said Dr. Small-Bailey would stand in the corridor and greet every student with a smile of with a hug.

"Then she would go to her office, then she would leave her office and she would walk every floor, look in every classroom, connect with every teacher," Gordon said.

"There was nothing she did that was not in excellence. She preached excellence," said Small-Bailey's college classmate Reverend Eyesha Marable. "Even during the pandemic, she served in excellence. She earned her degree during the pandemic. She wrote a book during the pandemic."

Dr. Small-Bailey was a woman who would break the rules if it was for the greater good and would tell it like it was whether you liked it or not. She was unapologetic.


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