CHARLOTTE (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — There were only small hints that something was different today at Harding University High School, flags at half-staff, and a somewhat subdued atmosphere. And sadly, everyone knew why.
“His compassion for what he did here, not just here but within CMS, but here at Harding. He did a 360,” said Mario Black.
Black is an activist, educator, and friend of Harding’s principal Eric Ward.
Ward spent 24 years within CMS in various roles, and had been principal at Harding itself for years. Wednesday night, district officials revealed that he had passed away.
“It left me speechless,” said Black.
Those that worked with Ward, and those hired by him, never forgot it.
“Eric Ward hired me in 2008 to join his staff at Wilson Middle School,” said Okema Simpson.
Simpson knew Ward in multiple capacities, including in her current work with Public Impact, an organization that works to improve K-12 education.
Ward served as a fellow in their Opportunity Culture program for his work on developing a model for keeping good teachers, and to give them the opportunity for those educators to lead small teams within the school.
FOX 46 had a chance to speak with Ward back in 2017. During an interview for a story on the school’s championship football game, he spoke glowingly about the school’s improving grades.
“He loved his scholars, he loved the students, and he gave 110 percent to them,” said Simpson.
“He met these students where they were,” said Black. “In education, that’s one of the most powerful things you can do.”
No cause of death has officially been released. Arrangements are pending.