Sep 19, 2011 10:42 PM by Ariel Wesler
Students and faculty returned to Vandenberg Middle School today without one of their beloved teachers, Karen Shumey. Her son allegedly shot and killed her over the weekend in San Luis Obispo.
Shumey taught 8th Grade history and was the department chair at the school, where she had been since 1992. She was also part of the school's leadership team and had received several grants and teaching awards during her career.
Most students and staff saw her on Friday, not realizing it would be the last time.
Shumey has been an educator in the Lompoc Unified School District for more than 20 years, so you can imagine how many thousands of people are affected by her sudden death.
"No matter if you saw her everyday, or once a year, you still got this real warm welcome, long lost friend kind of feel," said one of Shumey's friends and School Board President Sue Schuyler.
It was an emotional weekend after the school district notified parents and students on Sunday with an automated phone message. Some said she was like a second mother to her students.
"She really cared for them and she went out of her way to instill the same love of education she had," Schuyler said.
The principal at Vandenberg Middle School called Shumey, the quintessential teacher, a teacher's teacher. She's been receiving emails from former students throughout the state who loved her.
Sandy Humphrey emailed from Fresno.
"I absolutely adored Mrs. Shumey. She was probably the best teacher that I ever had. I will never forget some of the life long lessons that she taught. . . I don't think her family will quite know what kind of an impact she had.
Jess Price wrote on our KSBY Facebook Page
"She is a big part of the reason I'm in school to become a teacher now. From talking to a lot of former students everybody has one thing to say about her... The preamble song from Schoolhouse Rock. Years later, we still know all the words!"
"I truly believe that as many of those students from years ago will be back to see her and to say farewell," Schuyler said.
"There are very few around, as good as she was, and as committed as she was, still loving her craft," said Hugo Pedroza, Asst. Superintendent of Human Resources for LUSD.
Sadly, in her bio on the school's website, she once wrote her eldest son lives four hours away, but she's lucky that her youngest son lives nearby, a truly tragic irony.
The district says it's respecting the family's privacy and has not made any plans yet for a memorial ceremony.
Administrators say grief counselors will be available for students, faculty, and staff at Vandenberg Middle School and Cabrillo High School for as long as necessary.
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