Winston-Salem Must Say Goodbye to a Favorite Son – Mike Britt has Passed Away

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by Camel City Dispatch

By Chad Nance


“Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.”

– WH Auden


standing on his head for students was a favorite of mr. britt's
standing on his head for students was a favorite of mr. britt’s

Today our community got word that Winston-Salem has lost a great man, a man who made making our hometown a better place the centerpiece of his life’s work. From his work as an educator to his involvement with the arts and multiple local non-profits, Mike Britt will long be remembered for his kindness, his thoughtfulness, and his dedication to this community and all of her people.

According to initial reports, Mr. Britt’s death occurred unexpectedly early Wednesday morning from complications associated with the flu.

66 year-old Michael Britt began his own educational career at Wiley when the school included first through sixth grades. After Brunson opened as an elementary school, he went there. Mr. Britt headed back to Wiley for junior high school and then finished at Reynolds.

Winston-Salem to his core, on his retirement in 2014 Mike told Kim Underwood “I walked to school my entire school career just about.”

Britt stayed in Camel City attending Wake Forest University where he earned a Bachelors’ degree in 1970. He joined Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools the following fall as a math teacher at Paisley. He earned a Master’s degree in counseling at Wake Forest in 1978 and then took a position as a counselor at Paisley where he served under legendary principle Edward “Teacup” Hanes Sr.

Mr. Britt’s career focus on education came from the strong influence his parents had on him. Both of his folks were educators. Mike also cited an 8th grade math teacher, Doris Bostic as an inspiration. “That woman could explain like crazy,” he said.

When the school system returned to four year high schools, Mr. Britt moved to Mt. Tabor as a councelor. In 1985, Britt was asked to begin working with Winston-Salem’s Exceptional Children. At that time it meant working in the programs for students with disabilities as well as the academically gifted who were categorized in the same department.

In the spring of 1993 Mike was asked to become the principal and executive director of The Children’s Center. The executive director aspect of the job comes from the center’s housing of, in addition to a school, a program for children younger than three which is supported by the United Way and by other funding sources such as Medicaid and donations. In this role Mr. Britt served as the public face for the center in the community.

In 2010, the Children’s Center and The Special Children’s School merged to become The Centers for Exceptional Children. Britt became the executive director for the new entity. “There is no question that bringing the two schools together has strengthened them both,” he said at the time.

mike britt at exceptional children fundraiser - from facebook
mike britt at exceptional children fundraiser – from facebook

In 2012, The Centers for Exceptional Children received the 2012 Joel Weston Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management. The Weston Award was established in memory of Joel Weston, a Sara Lee executive and two-term United Way board chairman who died unexpectedly in 1984. Weston was adamant that “non-profits should be run in a business-like manner and do what they say they’ll do,” a task which Mr. Britt achieved while never forgoing a smile or turning down a hug. Mr. Britt retired from his work with Winston-Salem’s exceptional students in 2014.

Beyond his yeoman’s work as an educator, Mike Britt worked tirelessly in the community in other ways. He was a past President and regular financial supporter of the Adam Foundation which serves Winston-Salem‘s LGBT community and those, gay and otherwise, suffering from HIV/AIDS. Mike had also been on the board of the Carolina Chamber Symphony and Planned Parenthood of the Triad. He had been involved in a variety of other community activities and organizations, including Leadership Winston-Salem and Leadership Triad, the United Way, Smart Start of Forsyth County, The Arts Council, and The Mental Health Association. Mike was a long-time supporter and patron of the UNC School of the Arts. At the time of his death, he was serving on the Board of Directors of IMPRINTS for Children and the No Rules Theatre and was a member of the Rotary Club of Winston-Salem. Mike Britt’s life was an open testimony of working for his community and for others.

Closest to Mr. Britt’s heart were his two sons, their wives, and his granddaughters. He leaves behind his sons Andrew and Matthew, their wives Meredith and Joanna, and his two adorable granddaughters, Nora and Noelle…and the people of Winston-Salem in whose hearts he will forever abide.








mike britt
mike britt

Those who knew Mr. Britt knew have suggested that the following poem’s words and sentiment fit their feelings upon Mike Britt passing perfectly:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

– W.H. Auden

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