Popular preschool teacher shot dead in Norfolk on New Year’s Eve

Caroline Hendrix. Photo courtesy of her family.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk police say a woman has died after being shot in the Wards Corner section of the city. 10 On Your Side learned the victim was Caroline Hendrix, a teacher at Oceanair Elementary.

Norfolk police spokesperson Joann Hughes says the call came in around 8 p.m. Sunday from the 300 block of Virginian Drive.

A woman was found inside a vehicle suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Police on Tuesday identified the woman as Hendrix.

Caroline Hendrix (Photo courtesy: Norfolk Public Schools)

Medics took Hendrix to the hospital where she died.

A friend of Hendrix told 10 On Your Side that Hendrix “practically raised my brother’s daughter” and has no idea why someone would want to shoot her.

“The most caring compassionate woman you could ever meet,” he said. “I know a lot of kids are going to be so upset come (Tuesday) when they hear what happened to Miss Caroline.”

Hendrix did not live at the home on Virginian; her friend said she was visiting family. No one answered the door Monday morning. A pile of broken glass from what appeared to be a car window littered the left side of the driveway.

Hendrix was an active member of and part of the bell choir at Talbot Park Baptist Church.

On Tuesday, only 10 On Your Side spoke to Oceanair principal Lenthia Willie-Clark.

“She was just one of a kind and just a jewel to this entire building,” Willie-Clark said.

Hendrix spent 25 years with Norfolk Public Schools. She started as a pre-K teacher’s assistant at Ocean View Elementary for three years, before becoming a pre-K teacher at Oceanair in October of 1995.

Norfolk Public Schools issued a statement Tuesday morning on Hendrix’s death:

The Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) family was extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the very tragic death of Ms. Caroline Hendrix.  Ms. Hendrix, a pre-K teacher at Oceanair Elementary School, was a long-standing member of our faculty and has impacted the lives of countless students, parents and staff members.  She leaves behind a legacy spanning 25 years that won’t soon be forgotten. This is a tremendous loss to the district and community; we sincerely hope for swift justice in this case. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to her family and all those who have been affected by her untimely passing.

During the emotional interview, Willie-Clark explained Hendrix was a beloved teacher, and one she described as a phenomenal person.

“She was a person who everybody loved in the entire school and within the community. She was an advocate for the school and she fought to do what was best for the students, the staff and this whole entire school,” she said.

Willie-Clark said Hendrix led the pre-kindergarten team and was a two time Teacher of the Year winner. Hendrix wore many hats outside of the classroom — spearheading projects and facilitating programs.

This is a list of some things Willie-Clark said Hendrix took part in:

· Co-Founder of “Frog Camp.” A summer program to help keep students from falling behind in academics over the summer break.
· Pre-K Grade Level Chairperson
· MAPS-Co sponsored program “Motivated and Persistent Students
· PBIS Coach-Positive Behavior Intervention Support Team
· Co-Lead Teacher for “Dolphin Academy.” A program to support new teachers at Oceanair

“She was just one of a kind and just a jewel to this entire building,” Willie-Clark said.

Willie-Clark called the parents of children in Hendrix’s classroom on Monday to tell them what happened, because she didn’t want them to be surprised when they didn’t see Hendrix at school.

On Tuesday, grief counselors were at the school helping parents and staff handle the loss.

“It’s not easy. It’s not easy,” Willie-Clark said. She explained that Hendrix will never be replaced but her memory will live on.

“It’s just a loss. A loss to this community, a loss to our school family, a loss to her friends and the loss of a great teacher,” she said.

The school district also issued a list of helpful tips for talking to children about her death:

  • Tell the truth. Talk about death vs. “going to sleep.”
  • Allow your child to talk about feelings. If this is the first loss your child has experienced, your child may not know how to respond and will be looking for your guidance.
  • Affirm all expressions. It is okay to express feelings honestly. Tolerate the expressions rather than dismissing them or discouraging the expression of feelings.
  • Encourage for written expressions such notes, letters, pictures to the family etc.
  • Reaffirm that your child is safe and that your child is loved.
  • Affirm that your child’s reaction is normal and you understand the way the child feels.
  • Watch for signs of trouble such as aggression, withdrawal etc.
  • Help the children return to as normal routine as possible.

Police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

Stay on WAVY.com for updates.