Jack V. Knott Jr., 53, teacher, principal in Baltimore schools

November 14, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Jack V. Knott Jr., a Baltimore teacher and school administrator who tried to instill at least "a little bit" of knowledge in each student daily, died Sunday of hepatitis at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 53.

Mr. Knott taught in the city school system since 1969 and was principal of Joseph C. Briscoe High School, a special education school in West Baltimore.

"He was a wonderful man and a wonderful teacher," said Ruth Robinson, a longtime friend and math teacher at Briscoe High. "He always tried to understand you as a person -- whether it was a student or faculty."

A husky, bearded man, Mr. Knott was known as a calm and laid-back educator who seldom raised his voice or became angry. However, he made sure students knew that once they entered the school, they were there to learn.

"He was the kind of teacher that meant business, but showed it in a nice way," said Jerome Spradley, a student at the old Carroll Park High School in 1985, when Mr. Knott was principal. "He always showed he was concerned and cared about the kids in school."

Although Mr. Knott was serious about education, he found opportunities to join students in enjoying themselves. Among other events, he was fond of the annual Hat Day at Briscoe High.

"He was involved in all of the activities, but he liked Hat Day," Ms. Robinson said. She recalled that he proudly wore a tall, Mexican straw hat through the halls during a recent Hat Day. "He made it known to them [students] that 'Yeah, I enjoy the fun, too.' "

"But mainly he was just concerned about the children learning. He was pleased if a child left the classroom with just a little bit of new information."

A native of Baltimore who lived in Otterbein, Mr. Knott graduated from Baltimore City College high school in 1962 and the University of Maryland in 1967. He later received two master's degrees, one in administration from Loyola College and the other in special education from Coppin State College.

He served in the Army from 1968 to 1969 during the Vietnam War. In addition to combat duty in Vietnam, he taught Vietnamese children to speak English.

Mr. Knott's teaching career began in 1969 at the old Houston Woods Elementary School. He later taught at Greenspring Middle School and Robert Poole Middle School and headed the special education department at Patterson High School.

He headed the career development program at Northwestern High School and was principal at Carroll Park from 1984 until it merged with Briscoe High in 1989, when he was named principal of the combined school.

In addition to his school activities, Mr. Knott sang with the Handel Choir and worked with the Special Olympics.

Mr. Knott was one of the original homesteaders in the Otterbein community near the Inner Harbor in the early 1970s. He bought a four-story shell of a house and converted it into stylish living quarters.

"He had a great love of the neighborhood," said George Robbins, a neighbor and former president of the Otterbein Community Association. "The neighborhood was pretty desolate and hadn't developed. It was fairly adventurous to buy then, but he did and it worked out."

Services were Wednesday.

Mr. Knott is survived by his mother, Virginia Knott; a brother, Thomas Knott; and a longtime companion, David Yocum. All are of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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