RALEIGH (WTVD) --The Jaguar community is mourning the loss of their school's top leader. Athens Drive High School Principal Dr. James Hedrick died suddenly Tuesday morning. He was 62.
Hedrick worked for the Wake County School District for more than a decade. He has been described as a champion for children, who was dedicated to educating kids and improving their lives.
"He is truly an outstanding educator, lifelong educator and a great leader in our school system," said WCPSS Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Doug Thilman.
WCPSS said his passing was unexpected.
Colleagues learned about his death at a district summit ahead of the upcoming school year. Hedrick was supposed to be there.
"It's been tough. While we're here celebrating leadership in our district today and the work of the new school year, there's a real void," Thilman said.
Hedrick came to the Triangle from Virginia. He started at the helm of Green Hope High.
In 2011, he was honored by the State Department of Public Instruction for improving the graduation rate.
Hedrick transferred to Athens Drive High two years ago, where again he received praise for high gains in Standard Test math scores.
He told ABC11 then, "I'm happy for the teachers. The teachers are a very proud group."
An interim principal has not been named for Athens Drive. The WCPSS is now figuring out a plan that will offer support to staff and students when the school year begins.
"He just was that consummate professional and educator, and finding that replacement will be a challenge," Thilman said. "But we'll rise to the occasion and we'll support his memory through the work at Athens Drive."
Hedrick leaves behind his wife, Camille, who is the principal at Panther Creek High School in Cary.
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