A different kind of principal

Do you remember your high school principal? If so, do you have fond memories of them? To most people, going to the principal meant you were in trouble. That was not the case at Wootton High School. Not even close.

For students at this high school in Montgomery County, going to see the principal was a good thing, it was time with a mentor, with a person they looked up to, time with a friend.

When Principal Michael Doran died this week, his students were devastated. Clearly this principal left a lasting, positive impression on his students; current and former. What better way is there to be remembered, but as someone who made a difference in the lives of others? That’s the story of Principal Doran.

Longtime, beloved principal Dr. Michael Doran was found dead in his Bethesda apartment Wednesday morning, less than two weeks before school is set to return. While police investigate the cause of his death, his students, both current and former, share why he was no ordinary principal.

As news of Dr. Doran’s death spread on Wednesday, his students built a makeshift memorial in his old parking space.

“This is just a really bad time, it’s a really bad time,” says Gabi Bianchi, a student who brought flowers to the memorial Thursday morning. Students spent time there to reflect on memories of the principal they knew as much more than just their leader.

“He just cared about every student. I don’t know, there must have been 10 copies of him, because he was everywhere at every time,” says Bianchi.

Dr. Moran was 64 years old and had an 18-year career in the Montgomery County School system. He was principal for 12 of those years. He leaves behind a wife, two children and countless students whose lives he touched.

“He could relate to every person and everybody had unique memories with him, it was never the same,” says student Amanda Levin.

Bianchi remembers a specific time when Doran made a real impact on her. “I’m involved in a program called Minority Scholars. We held this big march at the Rockville Town Center for minority students and I asked all my friends to come. Only one or two of my friends came, and he was there,” she says.

Now they’re realizing how different their time at Wootton will be without him. “Wootton’s not going to be the same and the halls are going to be so empty,” says Levin. “Not having him on the stage to shake our hands at graduation is going to be the hardest thing ever.”

“He just cared about every student, I don’t think that there is a principal in the world like him,” says Bianchi. “He wasn’t just a principal, he was our mascot, he was our biggest fan, he was our friend. He was way more than an educator.”

Several students shared their grief on social media Wednesday. One student on Twitter said, “Thank you for being the best, funniest and most caring principal Dr. Doran we love you RIP.” Students also used the hashtag #WoottonStrong. Another tweet said: “RIP Dr. Doran you were the best principal anyone could ask for and you’ll be missed dearly.”

A vigil for Doran will be held Friday night at 6:00 at the Wootton High School football stadium.

Thursday and Friday, grief counselors are on hand at the school from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Doran’s death is the latest in several tragedies for Wootton High School. In June, two recent graduates died in a car crash.

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