Dr. Robert Daria’s tragic death Monday has rocked Newton County’s education community. His death has affected all of us that knew him, and his extended family at both Eastside High and Cousins Middle schools is coming to terms with their loss.
During his time as a teacher and an administrator at those two schools, he was a mentor to many. He lent a hand, albeit firm, to help young educators get their feet under them and was an inspiration to many administrators who have followed his footsteps.
Daria wasn’t always the most popular principal. He was strict — very strict. He made the men wear ties and made sure his teachers were at their duty stations during lunch and bell changes. He was even less popular with students who had little regard for the rules. If someone was smoking in a bathroom, Daria would sniff it out. There’s no question he ran a tight ship while at Eastside. But far more of those who had any interaction with him admired him. If you did things the right way and respected discipline, you got along with him just fine.
He welcomed outsiders to Eastside, whether it was a new teacher or a young journalist, with a firm handshake and a stern glare. But he did so in a way that made you feel a certain trust. He also had the trust of parents and those at the NCSS Board of Education. He didn’t back down from a parent who threatened to take a disciplinary decisions he made to the BOE .
At only 40 years old, Daria didn’t realize his destiny. As the son of a superintendent, he too would have eventually run a school system. After all, that’s what he did best. That’s the professional loss of this tragedy. The personal loss is even sadder for those he had an impact on. He leaves behind two young children and a void in the many lives he touched.
There’s little doubt Bob Daria was once a great leader in our community. He will be missed.