Herbert Hoover Middle School teacher Deanna Perucci, 24, died suddenly Thursday, Jan. 17, while teaching a class at the Potomac school.
In a letter to parents that day, Herbert Hoover’s principal Dr. Yong-Mi Kim wrote:
"Dear Hoover Families,
It is with great sadness that I share with you that Ms. Deanna Perucci, English teacher, passed away, today, January 17, 2019. Her passing was the result of a medical emergency that occurred while teaching students this morning.”
This was Perucci’s first year teaching for Montgomery County Public Schools. She taught English to sixth and seventh graders at Hoover. It is not clear which class she was in when she suffered the medical emergency that ended her life.
Kim’s letter continued with a tribute to Perucci and assurances to parents that Hoover staff and MCPS are available to support students in their grief.
“For those of you who knew Ms. Perucci, we ask that you remember and celebrate her kindness and commitment to others, specifically to children. She was a wonderful teacher that loved teaching at Hoover and cared deeply for our students.
“Each of us will react to Ms. Perucci’s death in our own way, and we need to be respectful of and supportive for each other. In regards to the students that were present this morning, we have already begun to provide support that will certainly be needed in the days and weeks to come. School counselors connected with each of these students providing different levels of support as needed. In addition, school administrators and counselors contacted family members of these students.
“A support team of counselors will be joining our staff beginning tomorrow, January 18 to provide counseling and support. I have attached some resources to this message that may be helpful to you in conversations with your child.
“I know you join me in extending your heartfelt sympathy to Ms. Perucci’s family and friends.”
Along with her letter, Kim sent resources to help parents discuss grief and loss with their children.
Tips included in “Crisis: Helping Children Cope with Grief and Loss” by Scott Poland, EdD, NCSP, Cypress-Fairbanks (TX) Independent School District; and Katherine C.Cowan and Ted Feinberg, EdD, NCSP, National Association of School Psychologists, were thoughts including letting children know that you really want to understand what they are feeling or what they need, a reminder that children will need long-lasting support and that grief work is “hard and complicated.”
Parents were also reminded in the article to be aware of their own need to grieve.
Perucci grew up in Montgomery County, attending elementary school at St. Peter’s School and Good Counsel High School, both in Olney.
She attended the University of Maryland where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Language and Literature and a Master’s Degree in Education. In addition to MCPS, Perucci taught English for one year in Anne Arundel County Schools and worked as a substitute teacher at Good Counsel.
At the University of Maryland, she was elected into the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta. She advocated an immersive learning approach, which she described as follows:
“Rather than teaching in a purely lecture-based setting, I strive to be a catalyst for higher-level thinking that fosters student-led discussions and enables students to reach their own conclusions,” according to her obituary on www.collinsfuneralhome.com.
Perucci is survived by her parents, Philip and Marian Perucci of Brookeville, and one sister, Suzanne Perucci, according to a death announcement published by Collins Funeral Home.