"The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6:12)
Robert “Rob” Croston, a Chicago Public Schools principal whose resourcefulness, energy and leadership inspired his students and helped engineer a school merger, has went on to Glory
Mr. Croston, 34, suffered from Marfan syndrome, a connective-tissue disorder, and had undergone multiple heart surgeries. He died in hospice care on Monday, according to his wife Sheena Davis Croston.
He was called a visionary for helping to bring about a merger between Jenner Academy of the Arts — a grade school at 1119 N. Cleveland with a largely African-American student population in the old Cabrini-Green neighborhood — and Ogden International School, which draws from a wealthier and largely white population.
As Mr. Croston put it in a 2016 blog post: “The school I lead, Jenner, is located in the shadows of gentrifying cranes ‘redeveloping’ the 70 acres of what used to be known as the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Although the neighborhood is 50 percent white, my student body is nearly 100 percent black. Our beautiful building, which is less than 20 years old, has room for 680 students but an enrollment of only 247. One mile away, overcrowded Ogden Elementary enrolls 882 students. Nearly half are white and only one-fifth are low-income. While the ‘whites only’ signs of the 1960s have come down, the reality of separate and unequal endures.”
He and his wife lived in West Pullman and were pastors at Crusaders Church. He met Sheena, a Chicagoan, at a church function in his native Milwaukee. They married in 2005. Their wedding song was “Friend” by Israel Houghton.
Mr. Croston attended Milwaukee’s Bay View High School and Marquette University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science and government, his wife said. He earned a master’s degree from the School Leadership Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a master’s in social science from the University of Chicago and a master’s in teaching from Dominican University, she said.
He is also survived by his sisters Tiffany Lawrence Nash and Brandy and Celeste Croston; his brother Deon, and his father, who is also named Robert Croston. Services are being planned in Chicago and Milwaukee, his wife said.
Though he lived to only 34, she said: “He accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish in life. He fulfilled his purpose, his calling . . . he was alive to see the merger go through. That was his dream.”
“Rob leaves behind a great legacy & HE LOVED HIS FAMILY SO DEARLY!