Nicolet Middle School students were mourning Monday for their teacher Ronald Sample, who died suddenly of a massive heart attack on Friday, an assistant principal and a Banning Unified School District board member said.
Sample was 49, Assistant Principal Theresa Castillo and Board of Trustees member Veronica Histed said. He died Friday morning, according to his wife Elizabeth, Histed said.
"He has two grown children," Castillo said. "He was a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was a very bright man. He was a wonderful teacher. The kids adored him and the teachers enjoyed working with him. He was a kind man. He was a good man."
Grief counselors were at Nicolet Middle School on Monday, where teachers told students of Mr. Sample's death about 8 a.m. during first period in their classrooms, Histed said.
Children were making cards for Mr. Sample's family and writing letters to Mr. Sample himself, as part of the grieving process, Histed said. Students and school staff were also signing larger poster boards set up for them to convey their feelings, Histed said.
"I'd like to commend the principal for how he handled this," Histed said. "He gathered the teachers Friday afternoon, and they discussed how the news would be communicated to the children at school on Monday."
Principal Robert Meteau at Nicolet Middle could not immediately be reached for comment.
Grief counselors and psychologists will be at the school all day Monday, Histed and Castillo said. They have tables set up in the school library with paper for writing letters and construction paper for making cards.
Funeral arrangements were pending.