Yetty L. Goodin, a retired city school principal, dies

Yetty L. Goodin, a former longtime principal of Garrett Heights Elementary and Middle School who was known for mentoring both staff and students, died of cancer May 27 at her Northwood home. She was 66.

“She was someone who was respected and admired,” said Charlene Cooper Boston, former interim CEO of city public schools. “I supervised her when I was an assistant superintendent, and I loved her.

“She related to the students and parents, who gave their support for her school,” said Dr. Boston, who retired in 2007. “She will be remembered for her tenacity and for always pushing to get things done. Her relationship with the administration was always professional and constructive.”

Dr. Boston described Ms. Goodin as “an outgoing person and very spirited.”

“She was willing to participate, and always encouraged others to participate. She loved her students, staff and the school system,” she said.

“Yetty was an outstanding administrator who ran a great school,” said Eleanor Golden, who taught at Garrett Heights from 1992 until retiring in 2007. “She was a person who had a great heart. She was a leader.”

“She didn’t sit in her office; she wanted to get to know all of her children,” Ms. Golden said. “She would go to the end of the world to talk to a parent about their child.”

Born and raised in West Baltimore, Yetty Lockett was the daughter of Reuben Lockett, a transit bus driver, and Everline Lockett, a secretary.

After graduating in 1969 from Western High School, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in education in 1973 from Morgan State University, then a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the Johns Hopkins University.

She taught at Yorkwood and Northwood elementary schools, then was named principal of Garrett Heights in Lauraville in 1992.

“She was outgoing, spirited and very willing to participate and encourage others,” Dr. Boston said.

“Yetty was of the old school, who emphasized reading, writing and math,” said Dr. Kimberly Evans, a former assistant principal at Garrett Heights who is now an education consultant. “That was her focus, and no child left that building without that educational focus.”

Ms. Goodin was also revered for her efforts aimed at inclusion.

“We had a large special education department, and she really cared about those children,” Dr. Evans said. “She was very eager to provide services for them.”

“These were children who were visually, physically or developmentally impaired, or had other special needs,” said Camilla “Cammie” Tucker, a retired special education teacher at from Garrett Heights. “She embraced their presence in her school and she wanted them to feel like they were equal.”

“People who had special needs children requested for their child to be sent to her school because they knew Yetty would make sure that they got a good education,” Dr. Tucker said. “She was the finest principal I ever worked for.”

“It was a lot of fun working there,” added Everene Johnson-Turner, a former assistant principal at Garrett Heights who later became deputy to the chief academic officer of city schools and is now an educational consultant. “She was adamant about physical education, and she attended recess every day after lunch with the students. She’d be out there on the playground with the children — it was something she wanted to do and she made it a part of her day.”

“She thought school should be a fun place and full of opportunities for kids — especially those from low-income families,” added Dr. Evans. “She wanted a school where kids would want to come, and she provided that.”

Ms. Goodin was known for her mentoring skills, and for putting in long hours.

“It wasn’t uncommon for her to be there until 8 or 9 at night. I often stayed with her because I didn’t want her alone in the building,” Ms. Golden recalled.

“She sympathized with you and she made us feel as if we were all family members,” Ms. Tucker said. “She’d get on the [public address] system in the morning and set the tone for the day, which was always very positive. When people came into our school, they could feel its warmth and that it was welcoming.”

“Garrett Heights was a different place because of her efforts,” Ms. Johnson-Turner said.

Ms. Goodin’s reputation extended well-beyond her own school. Other school administrators would call her for advice, said Ms. Golden said.

“She was very smart and knowledgeable about city schools, and they knew that at headquarters on North Avenue,” she said. “She was very intelligent … and a natural-born leader.”

Ms. Goodin retired in 2009.

The longtime Northwood resident enjoyed the theater — especially the Hippodrome and Center Stage, where she was a subscriber. She was also a member of the Hopewell Cancer Support group in Lutherville. She also served as a board member of Steppin’ Out, a social organization.

Ms. Goodin was a longtime member of Wayland Baptist Church, 3200 Garrison Blvd., where funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday.

She is survived by her husband of 12 years, William “Bill” Goodin, a semi-retired Hospital Central Services Corp. truck driver; a son, Jamie Kearney of Arizona; and many nieces and nephews. An earlier marriage to Benjamin Kearney ended in divorce.

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