A teacher at Ballou S.T.A.Y. High School and matriarch of a tight-knit D.C. family died of COVID-19 over the weekend, the school announced Monday.
Helenmaire White had five children and nine grandchildren. Her son, Tony White, said her death at the age of 62 is an “unbelievable loss, for my family especially."
White grew up in Barry Farms. She was proud of her Ward 8 roots, where for 30 years she and her husband ran a beauty salon near the Big Chair in Anacostia.
“My mother was always there, a phone call away, right down the street,” her son said.
For the last 14 years she taught cosmetology at Ballou S.T.A.Y. High School, giving young women a chance to launch a career of their own.
“Whatever your mom instilled in you, that’s what she wanted to instill in these young ladies. So it was a career starter,” Tony White said.
According to the union, White was the first active in-school teacher to die of COVID-19 this year. They also have some questions about how this all came about.
“We’re also looking at whether or not the school followed all of the safety protocols, such as contact tracing, sanitizing classrooms, informing the students, informing the staff,” Elizabeth Davis, the president of the Washington Teacher’s Union, said. “We don’t have all of the details of that, but we need to know.”
For those that want to carry on the memory of his mother, Tony White has a suggestion: “Anybody that she touched, if you wanted to honor her in any way, be the best person that you can be."