Rockville’s Wootton High School honors late principal with bridge

ROCKVILLE, Md. — When students talk about him, they just call him “Doran,” but the use of their late principal’s last name isn’t a sign of disrespect — it’s a sign of affection for a man who made it a point to get to know every one of his Wootton High School students.

On Thursday afternoon, a crowd of current and former teachers and students and members of the community gathered just outside the Rockville high school, where a bridge along Wootton Parkway was named in Michael Doran’s honor.

Doran served as principal for 12 years at Wootton, one of Montgomery County’s top-rated high schools. His sudden death in 2015 deeply affected the school community.

In the days and months following his death, weeks before the start of the 2015 school year, students took to adding the hashtag #doitfordoran when encouraging one another to excel in school, in sports and in their personal lives.

Chemistry teacher Jackie Alton taught under Doran for his 12 years as principal. Her eyes brimmed with tears as she spoke after Thursday afternoon’s dedication.

She said they could have named the playing field or a building for Doran, but, she said tearfully, “A bridge is just so fitting, because that’s what he was. He was a bridge to so many parts of our community.”

Jon Glaser, a 2015 Wootton graduate, said Doran was an advocate for the school and the students: “He really exemplified everything you would want an administrator to be but he was also a friend to many students here,” he said.

Glaser recalled that Doran would visit with students at lunch, often stealing french fries off their plates. 

“I heard on multiple occasions that he would never have to buy a lunch,” Glaser said with a grin.

Doran was known to support students’ interests outside of the classroom.

“When I was starting a Republican club here at Wootton, he was really helpful,” Glasser added. “He helped me, because that’s what I was interested in, and he wanted to make sure that I was able to achieve what I wanted to do.”

Alton said that’s typical of the late principal.

“He knew every kid’s name; he knew who was on what sports team, who had the lead in the plays, who was in the pit crew.”

He was also supportive of his teachers.

“He was not the type to say ‘Put that in an email for me,'” Alton recalled. “He knew we were giving 100 percent, and he was giving it right back — 110 percent.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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