GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - There was a huge void when students and staff at Glenwood Springs High School and throughout the Roaring Fork School District returned to school from the Thanksgiving break Monday.
Longtime teacher and district instructional facilitator Paula Marr was killed in an accident on Interstate 70 near Wolcott last Wednesday. Her two sons, GSHS students Vinny and Evrett Marr, were also injured in the accident as they were reportedly on their way to Denver to visit family for the holiday.
"We were certainly hit by the emotional fallout from this loss today," GSHS Principal Paul Freeman said. "The Marr family is well-known in the community, and everybody feels touched and wants to help out."
Paula's husband, Scott Marr, is a second-grade and literacy teacher at Glenwood Springs Elementary School.
Vinny, a senior, recently competed in the state cross country meet, and Evrett, a sophomore, was a member of the Demons football team this fall.
"Both boys are exceptionally popular, so it has had a tremendous impact on the students as well," Freeman said.
According to information passed along to school officials by the family, Vinny Marr was expected to be released from a Denver hospital later this week. His younger brother was treated after the accident for moderate injuries and was released.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, Paula Marr was a passenger in the back seat of a Chevy Avalanche when the extended-cab pickup truck went out of control and traveled off the right side of the highway, rolling one-and-half times. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The accident occurred at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21. The State Patrol indicated that her two sons were in the front of the pickup, but authorities have not released any followup information as to who was driving. The accident remains under investigation.
Freeman said some students at GSHS wore blue on Monday, or donned a headband as a mark of respect for the family as they deal with the loss.
"We met as a staff to pay our respects, and realized that what students probably needed most was just some sort of normality in the day," Freeman said.
Fellow educators and friends also organized a candlelight vigil on the evening before Thanksgiving as word of the accident spread in the community.
GSHS teacher and cross country coach Mike Schneiter said students also painted the word "Family" on the student graffiti rock that sits outside the school.
"She was just a wonderful lady, and she was incredibly supportive of Vinny in his running," Schneiter said.
Paula Marr taught English for several years at GSHS before taking a position as districtwide instructional facilitator. She worked to train first-year teachers and to develop teaching and administrative staff in the district.
"She worked very hard to make sure every lesson in the Roaring Fork School District was the best it could be," Freeman said. "Her office was right next to mine, so she was always the first person I'd go to talk to about an idea on how to practice teaching."
Roaring Fork District Re-1 Interim Superintendent Diana Sirko said the loss will be felt districtwide.
"Paula was a very well-respected educator who was very committed to her job and to improving education for all of our students," Sirko said.
A memorial service for Paula Marr is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Mountain View Church south of Glenwood Springs.