Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board Candidate Stan Elrod died unexpectedly Tuesday night according to posts on social media.

Elrod was a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, and principal throughout his 34 years with the school district. After retiring, he decided to run for the school board.

He attended a forum at R.J. Reynolds High School, where he'd been principal years before, on Oct. 12. "I may have officially retired but I'm still a strong advocate of public schools," Elrod said. "I still have the love, the passion, the energy, and the time needed to make our Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system one that we can be proud of."

Those who knew him say he had a reputation in the district for knowing every student's name, and being present at school events to support them. 

Terry Hicks was the chorus teacher at Reynolds High School when Elrod was there. 

“He was at every game. And if there were multiple games going on, he would let you know beforehand," Hicks said. "‘I'm going to be there at the beginning. And then I'm going to get over there at the end of that one. And I'm going to try to stop by in the middle and see just a little bit of that one. Because I just want these kids to know that I'm there.’”

He didn’t just go to the games either. Hicks says Elrod went to the concerts and art events, visited classrooms, and made a point of interacting with students in the halls. He’d tell them, “‘I will’ can always beat ‘IQ’,” and encouraged students that anything was possible. 

His leadership skills are part of the reason why Tripp Jeffers with the North Carolina Association of Educators encouraged Elrod to run for the Board of Education. 

Jeffers says Elrod was quick to share credit, reluctant to assign blame, and had a way of bringing people together. 

“Both members of the school board currently, future members of the school board, and everyone who aspires to a position of public office should look at him as a beacon of reaching across the aisle of seeing someone as a person, and not as a partisan," Jeffers said. "And maybe we can get past some of the divisions and disagreements that we have if we do that.”

Elrod was one of five candidates running in District 2 in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education race. In the primary election, he received the second-highest number of votes for that district with more than 9,000.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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