Sale Creek Middle / High School math teacher Todd Wood died of COVID-19 on September 28, the first confirmed educator death in the COVID-19 pandemic at Hamilton County schools.
Wood, 48, battled the coronavirus for a month and was hospitalized, Sale Creek manager LeAnn Welch told The Times Free Press on Friday.
Even in quarantine, Wood taught the students, she said.
âIt’s been a really hard thing for our teachers and our students to absorb, it’s just been, it’s really hard for our students because it’s been with them,â Welch said. “It is one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced as a manager.”
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Welch said Wood’s hobbies included photography – a hobby they shared – and that he enjoyed working as a river guide on the Ocoee River for over 20 years.
In a Questions and answers on the Ocoee Inn Rafting website, Wood said he enjoyed being on the river since he was a kid, and one of his most adventurous experiences was taking a two-week road trip with a friend to ride as many roller coasters as possible.
âI have ridden over 100 roller coasters,â he said on the website.
Welch said Wood loved “Star Wars” and decorated his classroom with characters from “Star Wars” and Marvel. Her nickname was Yoda, according to the Ocoee Inn website.
“[He was an] good guy all around and particularly connected with the students [with] disabled and students who struggled with math, âWelch said.
Sale Creek is the second school in the North River Learning Community to mourn the loss of a school community member to COVID-19, following the death of a student from Sequoyah High School who was hospitalized for a month.
Hamilton County Schools issued a mask warrant this school year with the ability for parents to remove their children from the public health measure, which works best with universal compliance.
Both schools had higher student mask removal rates than the district average, which was 13.6% as of September 28. As of August 25, Sale Creek’s student mask removal rate was the highest in the district at nearly 60%.
(READ MORE: COVID-19 deaths of Tennessee public school workers soar)
Welch said Wood’s family confirmed he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.
âHe wasn’t. And his family gave me permission to share that he wasn’t,â Welch said. “Very much regretted by all.
âPlease share,â added the manager, âbecause maybe someone will think about it because of your story. It breaks my heart. We have an amazing family in Sale Creek, and I pray so we never lose another. “
At the district level, just over two-thirds of teachers are fully immunized against COVID-19, according to the Hamilton County Schools COVID-19 Data Dashboard.
According to the Ocoee Inn website, Wood grew up in Michigan and Florida and came to Cleveland, Tennessee, where he graduated from Lee University. He still lived in Cleveland.
(READ MORE: ‘A great young man’: Pastor, school remembers Hamilton County student who died from COVID-19)
His obituary says he is survived by his wife, Jennifer Adam-Wood, and daughter, Amelia Joyce Wood, among others.
When asked in Ocoee Rafting’s Q&A what inspired him, Wood said his daughter.
âSeveral things that are now hobbies started out as things that she wanted to do together,â he said. “She inspires me to be the best person I can be.”
Contact Anika Chaturvedi at [email protected] or 423-757-6592.