On April 1, former Richard Montgomery High School principal Dr. Nelson McLeod passed away at age 51. Before serving at RM from 2008 to 2014, Dr. McLeod was the principal of Newport Mill Middle School and the assistant principal of Takoma Park Middle School. His bright spirit and enthusiasm will long be remembered everywhere that he served.
In April 2014, Dr. McLeod stepped down from his position at RM to focus instead on recovering from a cardiac medical condition. Despite his desire to return, his declining health presented an unwelcome impediment, forcing him to resign two months later.
However, Dr. McLeod’s abruptly curtailed career was not without a spark. He was named an Outstanding Leader by the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009 and Maryland State Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals in 2007. Further, Dr. McLeod received several prestigious awards for his dedication to serving the school, including the Washington Post Distinguished Education Leadership Award and the Educator of Excellence for Minority Achievement Award.
But aside from the public recognition, Dr. McLeod never failed to leave a lasting impression on the individual staff or students he worked with. According to Richard Montgomery senior Riva Redding, “Dr. McLeod was an amazing person. He was always smiling and happy to help out. He was always showing school spirit and going to all the games.” She also commemorated his willingness to support traditionally under-funded programs, noting that “he continuously helped with the choral program and made sure [it] had everything [it] needed.”
RM students learned of Dr. McLeod’s death on Apr. 4 through a special televised announcement made by principal Mr. Damon Monteleone. While the entire RM community did come together to participate in a brief moment of silence commemorating his life, a group of students decided to take it a step further. They worked hand-in-hand with the RM administration to create a short video tribute. The film featured staff and students recounting their memories of Dr. McLeod, as well as pictures and clips of him during his time as principal.
According to a 2014 Washington Post article, Dr. McLeod called being appointed as RM principal “the greatest professional honor in [his] educational career,” labeling RM as “a wonderful school with a great legacy of excellence and community service.” His dedication and love for the school will long live as a legacy of its own, celebrated by staff and students not only at RM, but all across the county and beyond. In the words of Redding, “His smiling face will serve as a great memory to everyone.”
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Irene Park of Richard Montgomery High School