(CBS4) – The Grandview High School community is hurting as students, teachers and families found out that the woman killed by a falling tree on Friday was well-known teacher Meredith Latchaw. She was a 21 year veteran science teacher at Grandview in Aurora and taught for five years at Rangeview High School prior to her years at Grandview.

Meredith Latchaw

Meredith Latchaw (credit: CBS)

“She was truly an exceptional human who meant so much to the Grandview community,” said principal Lisa Roberts.

Latchaw taught Advanced Placement Environmental Science and Physics at Grandview. Roberts said she got a note right away from a student saying Latchaw was their favorite teacher. A native of Colorado, Latchaw attended South High School and Colorado College. Roberts related that Latchaw always wanted to be a teacher and was modest, conscientious kid-centered and “always thinking about others.”

(credit: CBS)

Latchaw was camping with her family off Meadow Creek Road north of Vail about two miles from Piney Lake. Her husband Mark and two children were with her when gusty winds blew a dead tree onto their campsite. There is significant pine beetle kill damage to forests in the area. No one else was injured. Rescue was made difficult by distance and the lack of cell service in the remote area.

Mark Latchaw, an Air Force veteran, expressed an emotional thank you to students, staff and friends who have been sending the family many kind messages. He told us it was immensely helpful to see, “Every life that she touched.” “She was over and above trying to figure out ways to connect with students,” he said.

Latchaw loved the outdoors and environment. She was known for taking students on a field trip every year to visit a nature preserve. Her love of students and science and the community were a tribute to the teaching profession. Roberts indicated many teachers are already having a tough time dealing with the coronavirus pandemic along with cuts in education and social pressures amid recent protests. The death of a beloved colleague has hit hard. Mark Latchaw related that the pandemic was frustrating to his wife as she missed the contact with students. “She didn’t have that in-person contact, but she was brainstorming, figuring out how to connect with each and every student.”

Latchaw will be deeply missed by more than a generation of students and fellow educators.

“We are so saddened and devastated by this. We will miss her immensely,” said Roberts.

Alan Gionet

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