SAN RAFAEL (BCN) – Grief counselors were on the Terra Linda High School campus in San Rafael Monday to console students following the death of a popular English teacher.
The body of Debra Schmitt, 53, who disappeared Thursday, was found in a creek bed near her home in Ross at about 9:50 a.m. on Saturday.
Before she disappeared, she had written, “Thank you everyone” on a blackboard in her classroom, San Rafael police said. Ross police said she had lost three relatives during the past year and was going through a divorce.
In a letter to parents, students and friends on Saturday, Terra Linda High School Principal Lars Christensen said Terra Linda High School counselors were to be available on campus Monday along with psychologists, crisis counselors and mental health professionals from the San Francisco-based Bay Area Community Resources Group, and counselors from the Dixie School District.
The school library was serving as a counseling center.
Christensen said he met Monday morning with students from two of Schmitt’s classes. Schmitt taught sophomore and senior English classes this year and had worked at the school for 10 years.
“They all are moved by this tragedy and are sad for her family and son. She was particularly close to students who struggled a bit, but they are in the process of moving forward,” Christensen said.
“She was exceptionally well regarded by her students and loved by her colleagues. We are concerned the sophomores and seniors receive the instruction they need until the end of the school year,” Christensen said.
Christensen said he and the senior class president are planning a special evening this week for students who want to share poetry and remembrances of their teacher.
The school also is hosting a “Learning Through Loss” program between 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday night to help parents address their teen children’s grief in the wake of suicide.
Police said an initial examination of Schmitt’s body did not reveal signs of foul play. The results of a full investigation of her death will not be available for several weeks, Ross police said.
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