Fulton principal and college professor wife drown in Puerto Rico

Ann and Jamar Robinson drowned Sunday while on a trip to Puerto Rico.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

Ann and Jamar Robinson drowned Sunday while on a trip to Puerto Rico.

He was a dynamic leader who inspired his marching bandmates and later his colleagues and students. Jamar Robinson was the man others wanted to be, according to a longtime friend.

“He was hardworking,” Marcus Scott told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He didn’t play around. When he said something, everybody listened to him. Everyone respected him.”

As for his wife, she was a college professor working on her doctorate degree. Ann Robinson found time to be a mother to the couple’s two boys, advance her career and give back to her community.

Visitation and livestream funeral plans announced for Jamar and Ann Robinson

On Wednesday, the Westlake High School community mourned the loss of the principal, Jamar Robinson, who died along with his wife during a weekend trip to Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, the Georgia State University community remembered Ann Robinson, an assistant professor who served as a mentor to her students, always displaying grace and patience.

Jamar and Ann Robinson were swimming in the ocean Sunday behind their hotel when Ann began to struggle against the current, according to a Puerto Rico news report. Jamar Robinson tried to reach her and both went under, the report said.

Others in the area attempted unsuccessfully to rescue the couple, local authorities told the news outlet.

Sunday morning, Ann Robinson spoke with her sister in Florida and sent her some photos. But Anita Craig said she wasn’t able to reach her sister again. Craig and others were worried when they couldn’t contact the couple, who had been scheduled to return to Atlanta early Monday.

“I never heard back from her,” Craig said.

Late Tuesday, the family got the devastating news that the Robinsons would not be returning. The couple’s two boys, ages 14 and 15, remain with relatives at their Atlanta-area home.

Ann Robinson was an assistant professor of political science at Georgia State University Perimeter College. Late Wednesday, Dean Nancy Kropf said Robinson began her career at the former Georgia Perimeter College as a part-time instructor of political science in 2005.

“She was a beloved and admired member of the faculty and her loss is felt personally and professionally by all of us,” Kropf said in an emailed statement.

“Fulton County Schools is mourning the tragic loss of Westlake High School principal Jamar Robinson and his wife,” the school system said Wednesday. “Robinson was an inspirational leader who brought joy with his passion for education and his students. We join the community in remembering him and expressing our condolences to his family.”

Later Wednesday, Fulton Superintendent Mike Looney posted a message on social media.

“As we attempt to process the loss of Principal Jamar Robinson and his beautiful wife, let’s rally behind their children, extended family members and Westlake High School’s students and staff,” Looney said.

Jamar Robinson had been principal of the school, just outside the Atlanta city limits in south Fulton County, since 2018. But he began his teaching career years earlier in DeKalb County, where he grew up and attended school.

As a student at Southwest DeKalb High School, Robinson was a drum major. And for Scott, who back then was an eighth grader marching with the high school band, Robinson was the epitome of what he wanted to be: A leader striving for the best and commanding others to do the same.

“He never treated me like I was in eighth grade. He treated me just like I was a friend,” Scott said. “He treated everyone the same.”

After graduating from Southwest DeKalb in 1995, Jamar Robinson attended Florida A&M University. There, the saxophone player again served as drum major, this time for FAMU’s Marching 100.

Jamar Robinson became principal of Westlake High School in 2018.

Credit: Shaddi Abusaid

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Credit: Shaddi Abusaid

It was in college that Robinson met the love of his life, Scott said. Ann was the piccolo section leader. Scott also attended FAMU, and again, Jamar Robinson was his drum major.

“We loved him in high school. We loved him in college,” Scott said. “He was a fan favorite. He commanded the room.”

Just being in Robinson’s presence was inspiring, Scott said. “Even on the college level, I looked to him as a leader,” he said. “It’s an amazing coincidence that we both became principals.”

Robinson later earned advanced degrees at Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University, according to the Fulton school system website.

Ann Robinson was equally focused on education, completing master’s degrees at both FAMU and Georgia State. She was working toward her doctorate at Georgia State and worked as an assistant professor on the Perimeter campus, according to the university.

Ann Robinson, an assistant professor at Georgia State University, died Sunday.

Credit: Georgia State University

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Credit: Georgia State University

In August 2015, she was promoted to assistant professor and was up for promotion to associate professor this year, Kropf said.

Among her classmates in the doctorate program, Ann Robinson was known as the “encyclopedia” because of her intellect and love of learning. Outside the classroom, she was the caregiver for her son with medical needs, a colleague said. Yet she also found time to dedicate to Westlake, helping with various events at her husband’s school when she could.

As news of the Robinsons' deaths spread, colleagues, students and alumni used social media to express condolences.

“Our hearts are broken for the family of Mr. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson and the entire Westlake community,” Bobby May, Westlake football coach, posted on Twitter. “We will always remember Mr. Robinson as the principal who worked tirelessly, was always upbeat, passionate, never missed a game or event and LOVED his students with a heart that was unmatched.” Administrators sent an email to Westlake families informing them of a switch to online learning Wednesday due to “the tragic death of a staff member,” although Robinson was not named.

Eldread Nunnally, assistant principal at Stockbridge High School and former Westlake teacher, said Jamar Robinson was one of the best mentors he ever had.

“You served as the heartbeat of the Westlake community and a true role model for all,” Nunnally said in a tweet directed at the late principal. “A perfect example of actions speaking louder than words ever could. Thank you for everything big bro and job well done.”

Funeral arrangements for the couple were pending.

— Staff writers Chelsea Prince and Shaddi Abusaid contributed to this article.