RIVERDALE, MD (WUSA9) - As principal of more than 2400-students at Parkdale High School, Tanya Washington had a favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quote to live by: “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Washington died unexpectedly over the weekend, according to an announcement from Prince George’s County Schools. Officials said family members have not disclosed the cause of Washington’s death.
Parkdale lowered its flags to honor her Monday.
Washington’s goal was to have all students at Parkdale college or career ready on graduation day. She was beloved for encouraging students to believe that dreams are attainable.
“She started calling me Mr. President,” said an emotional senior Juwan Blocker, who rose out of student leadership to become the student representative on the Prince George’s County Board of education. Blocker said Ms. Washington became a mentor who reminded him that achieving dreams required him to always put in the work.
Ms. Washington graduated from Anacostia High school in 1985 and intended to become a scientist, said Parkdale Assistant Principal Tasha Grave’s Henderson. Instead, Washington found she was more inspired to teach.
She was a science teacher at Wirt Middle School and an administrator at Flowers High School, before being named Principal at Parkdale in 2013.
Washington worked in the Prince George’s County School system for 19 years.
Prince George's County Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell released the following statement on Monday:
"I am shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of beloved Parkdale High School principal Tanya Washington.
Ms. Washington was dedicated to Parkdale students and staff. In her 19 years with Prince George’s County Public Schools, she gave countless hours and immeasurable energy towards a vision of excellence for all students. Ms. Washington was an outstanding administrator, caring colleague and friend. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Ms. Washington joined Prince George’s County Public Schools in 1997 as a teacher at William Wirt Middle School. She later taught science at Charles H. Flowers High School. She served as assistant principal at Oxon Hill Middle School and Largo High School before moving to Parkdale High School as principal in 2013.
Starting Monday, a team of school psychologists, counselors and pupil personnel workers will be at Parkdale to provide counseling and support for students and staff as long as necessary.
On behalf of the entire Prince George’s County Public Schools community, I extend thoughts and prayers of comfort to Ms. Washington’s loved ones and the Parkdale High School community."