Karen Helweil, a beloved teacher who has taught students at Catharine Blaine K-8 for more than 20 years, has died.
Blaine principal Heather Swanson has written a letter to Blaine families expressing her heartfelt condolences to the Helweil family and concern for students. Swanson also included a link for parents on ways to help children cope with death.
Helweil has taught primary grades at Blaine for more than 20 years and this year taught third graders. She earned her teaching degree at the University of Washington and a degree in English literature from the University of Utah. Helweil was an avid reader and traveler. She recently visited the Rocky Mountains.
Below is Swanson’s letter:
Over the past several years I have, as the Principal, been able to communicate with you the triumphs, successes, and achievements of our students and staff. The letters, emails, and individual communications regarding the wonderful things happening at Catharine Blaine have always left me inspired, energized, and committed to providing each and every family with the best social, emotional, and educational experience possible.
I now find myself having to communicate to you in a different way, one that leaves my heart heavy, my spirit dampened, and the Catharine Blaine community in a state of mourning and grief. I am extremely saddened and heart-broken to inform you that Karen Helweil, a beloved 3rd grade teacher, peacefully passed away on Sunday, December 18. Karen’s commitment to inspiring students and her enthusiasm for teaching will be deeply missed by the students, families and staff she encountered each and every day. Our deepest sympathy and our heartfelt wishes go out to Karen’s family and friends.
As we navigate the days and weeks ahead together, I want you to know that I am committed to continuing the best possible experience for our children. I understand that this is not easy news to share, I have included some Guidelines for Helping Children Cope with Death, and when school resumes on Tuesday, January 3, there will be additional support staff on site to provide assistance to students, families, and staff to ensure that our emotions, concerns, and well-being are addressed and attended to.
As we move forward from this unexpected tragedy we will begin planning a memorial service to be held in January, a memorial service that will celebrate and give thanks to Karen’s life, her dedication to the Catharine Blaine community, and her gift to teaching.
Peace be with you,