School officials, students at Southeast Middle mourn loss

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Ronnie Gallagher
There were a lot of hugs and tears Friday morning in the hallways of Southeast Middle School as faculty and students dealt with the death of one of the school’s most popular teachers.
Marilyn Webb, a sixth-grade science and social studies teacher, was killed in an early-morning wreck on U.S. 52 near Gold Hill when a dump truck swerved into her lane.
Principal Skip Kraft and Assistant Principal Chris Boylan went to the accident scene and then spent the rest of the day consoling the Southeast family.
“Anytime there’s a loss of somebody’s life, it’s tragic, no matter if it’s staff, family or someone in the community,” an emotional Kraft said. “Unfortunately, when it’s a teacher, you have three grade levels she taught.”
Kraft and Boylan were told at the scene that apparently the man driving a dump truck looked down and when he looked up, he saw a truck stopping in front of him. To avoid hitting the truck, he went into the other lane and hit Webb’s car. She was driving to school from her Stanly County home.
“What they told us was none of this was her fault,” Boylan said.
The administration became concerned when Webb didn’t come to school.
“She hadn’t shown up for work, which never happens,” Boylan said. “She’ll call even when she’s late.”
Webb, who had taught at Southeast since it opened nine years ago, celebrated her 50th birthday on Aug. 18.
Kraft spent much of his morning giving hugs to sobbing students and talking quietly with many of the teachers.
“We’ll try to stay as normal as possible,” he said. “We don’t want to shut the doors. Mrs. Webb wouldn’t want that to happen, either.”
Kraft praised the Rowan-Salisbury School System for its quick response. Counselors were on campus.
“It has really been quite overwhelming,” Kraft said. “It happened so quick.”
Kraft noted that Superintendent Judy Grissom, Director of Student Services Tim Smith and many support people were at the school early.
“It’s very comforting that the Rowan-Salisbury Schools wrapped their arms around us,” Kraft said. “Parents are blessed to have a school system like this.”
Boylan said he’ll remember Webb’s infectious smile.
“She was just a beautiful, smiling lady,” Boylan said. “Every time you saw her, she had a smile. Even when you didn’t have a smile, she had one for two people. And all of a sudden, you were in a good mood.”
Kraft has been in education for 26 years and he said he has never been forced to deal with a situation like this.
“It puts into perspective just how precious life is,” he said.