Gwinnett students, faculty celebrate assistant principal after death

A high school's chief disciplinarian is rarely a favorite among students, but Shiloh High School Assistant Principal Joe Paul was one of the most well-liked administrators at the school, Principal Danyel Dollard said.

Paul died Sunday, Sept. 17, at the age of 52 after suffering a heart attack, according to an obituary. He is survived by his wife, Amanda, and four sons.

Paul was known for his “firm yet fair demeanor” in interactions with both students and fellow faculty members, Dollard said in a letter to parents. Before taking the assistant principal position in July 2015, Paul worked as a history teacher at the Gwinnett Intervention Education (GIVE) Center East, an alternative middle and high school. He was also a youth minister for 16 years. That experience shaped his approach to his role as Shiloh’s discipline coordinator, Dollard said.

“There’s always that thin line between church and state, but the way he carried himself and the way he worked with everyone, he always had a positive spirit around him,” Dollard said. “Something he would always say to students was, ‘You’re not a bad person, you just did a bad thing.’ ”

Besides dealing with student discipline, Paul was the administrator overseeing Shiloh’s arts, media and entertainment academy, helping students “look beyond high school” to college and career options, Dollard said.

The connections Paul built with Shiloh students led many to ask Dollard: “What can we do to celebrate him?”

In the days after Paul’s death, students wore colors of Paul’s favorite sports teams in his honor. Paul was a lifelong Alabama Crimson Tide fan and also rooted for the Georgia Bulldogs, as multiple sons attended the University of Georgia. The student body is currently planning a remembrance ceremony that will take place at the school.

“You never know, in this role [of assistant principal], how you impact students, but so many students felt he really cared,” Dollard said. “They felt like he really wanted to take time to get to know them and care about them.”

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