Photo by Sandra Foyt / Facebook
SELKIRK — A.W. Becker Elementary School Principal Tricia Carlton died Tuesday, Feb. 21, after an eight-month battle with cancer. She was 52.
Carlton was appointed principal of the Ravena Coeymans Selkirk elementary school in April of 2014 to replace then-retiring principal Claudia Verga.
In a letter to the school district, RCS District Superintendent Robert Libby expressed having a “heavy heart” before announcing Carlton’s death.
“In her brief time with us, she touched many lives throughout the Becker community, as well as around the district,” stated Libby. “She was known for her vibrancy and enthusiasm for her work. She was a fully dedicated professional who kept the best interests of our students, parents and staff in mind. She will be deeply missed.
Carlton was a lifelong educator, having started her career as an elementary teacher in East Greenbush after earning a master’s degree in elementary education from Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass. She ultimately advanced to assistant principal of that district’s middle school. After four years, she was promoted to the principal position at Bell Top Elementary. Before accepting her role at A.W. Becker, just a few miles away from her Delmar home, she served as principal of Berlin Elementary School in Rensselaer County.
“I am honored to be joining the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District as the new principal at A.W. Becker,” stated Carlton in 2014, shortly after she was announced as the new school principal. “It is my hope that I can continue to move the school forward and support the many initiatives put in place by Ms. Verga.”
Sandra Foyt, a mother from the Bell Top Elementary School community, described Carlton as “inspirational” as she shared her memories on social media.
“I’ll always remember that she was a visible and friendly presence at the elementary school, welcoming and encouraging parents to volunteer,” stated Foyt. “Her focus on a healthy lifestyle was inspirational, and I know that my kids appreciated the salad bar that she brought to the school. The memory that sparks the biggest smile, however, was in 2006 at the annual Halloween parade. Nine teachers were lined up representing planets, including the recently out-of-work Pluto. And Tricia Carlton was there as the sun.”
Patricia Ann Johnson Carlton “Tricia,” 52, of Delmar, peacefully passed away on February 21, 2017, after an eight month struggle with cancer. Her final hours were spent in Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, suffering from complications from her cancer, T-cell lymphoma. She was surrounded by her loving family and friends during her final days.
Born in Amsterdam in 1964, she started her life excited about all life had to offer, not allowing anything to slow her down. She wanted to share her knowledge and passion for life with others, ultimately pursuing work in the field of education as a teacher, a goal from her childhood, and then an administrator. She was most recently employed by the Ravena, Coeymans, Selkirk Central School District as the principal of A.W. Becker Elementary school where she made it her priority to know each child’s name and something about them. She was an inspiration to those around her professionally and personally. Her lifetime desire to be a mother was realized with the birth of her two children, her greatest gifts, and opening her heart to two stepchildren, with seemingly room to spare. Showing the deepest gratitude and kindness with every interaction, extending even to her pets and other worldly creatures.
An insistent traveler, Tricia had traveled around the globe and could never get enough of other cultures the people and the beautiful scenery. Her children had passports at an early age, with the hopes they would never be left to expire. Yearly pilgrimages to the beach, whether Cape Cod or Florida, were mainstays which rejuvenated her as she looked further ahead at another big trip. The next destination was to be Italy in celebration of remission from the terrible illness of cancer. The planning will continue for this pilgrimage in celebration of her life.
The daughter of Molly Sontag and Ralph Johnson, she is survived by them; as well as her husband, David Caso; her children, Dylan and Melana Carlton; stepchildren, Sam and Ben Caso; Johnson siblings, Lois, Robert, Cathy, Betsy, David, Theresa and Annie; nieces, Nina, Lilly, Chloe, Jaya and Frances; nephews, Liam, Daniel and his wife, Libby; Scott Carlton, father of Dylan and Melana and his wife, Kathy. Calling hours will be held on Saturday, March 4, in the Applebee Funeral Home, 403 Kenwood Ave., Delmar, from 2 to 6 p.m.
Memorial donations in her name are welcome to the following organizations, 5 Rivers Environmental Center, friendsoffiverivers.org, or the ACLU, aclu.org.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.