A makeshift memorial of flowers, cards, and personal messages is accumulating in front of Vail Ranch Middle School to express heartfelt condolences for the loss of Shelly Graesser.
Read Updated: ‘Beloved’ Vail Ranch Middle School administrator dies
Graesser, an assistant principal at Temecula’s Vail Ranch Middle School for eight years, was killed Friday evening at a local, family-owned farm Temecula Berry Co. while riding a tractor.
“She was the most awesome person there was. She was always getting kids to come in and talk (out their issues) with her,” said Vail Ranch Middle School math teacher Kathy Spano.
“I think she was supposed to go watch a student’s game last night. That’s just how she was,” she said.
Spano was part of a small gathering of about 20 people who met at the school with flowers and notes for the family.
“This is all still so unreal. I just talked with her yesterday,” said Vail Ranch student Sky Stewart.
Sky recalled Graesser’s friendly smiles and fun teasing that had her smiling just a few short hours ago.
Spano said she wished there was a way to roll back the clock to reverse the tragic outcome of what appears at this point to have been a freak accident.
According to the Temecula Valley Unified School District website, Graesser taught for eight years prior to becoming an assistant principal — six years of middle school and two years at the elementary level. She taught Math and Science in the Murrieta School Unified District.
She leaves behind a husband and two children — Daisy and Gage.
Spano and others said they may arrange for another, larger vigil at a time that will be announced via a quickly launched Facebook page.
Meanwhile, district officials are still trying to piece together the details of the accident, as staff and students brace for a Monday morning that will be void of one very beloved face.
Spano said: “It’s going to be terrible for us here. For all of us.”
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.