A frightening scene in a Lafayette High School classroom Monday as students rushed to the aid of a beloved teacher who suddenly collapsed and died during class.
Veteran educator Alicia Gauthier was teaching her eighth hour gifted American History class when she told students she didn't feel well, then collapsed on her desk. Although students quickly scrambled to help, Gauthier died in her classroom.
Lafayette High Principal, Dr. Patrick Leonard, said that the lessons Ms. Gauthier taught her students went far beyond classroom. "Her presence will be missed. She was an excellent educator that taught kids about life through the curriculum and how to live and how to be compassionate," said Leonard.
Gauthier had been an educator at Lafayette High School for 14 years and a part of the Lafayette School system for 28 years. Leonard said she was one of a kind and her dedication and commitment to teaching never went unnoticed.
"She was that kind of teacher that taught above what was required and kind of in her own way, her own curriculum. She taught what she thought the kids needed to know and it was all the right things," said Leonard. Leonard said Gauthier built strong relationships with her students. A counseling session was held Tuesday allowing them to express their feelings upon losing such a beloved teacher. "Seniors as well as the juniors that knew were allowed to go to the library for a group therapy session with counselors and psychologists. Social workers were there also," said Leonard.
Leonard said there were moments of crying and laughter. Conversations had and memories shared turned into a celebration of who Gauthier was. "She was always full of energy. She used to always cook for us and she really enjoyed teaching us and doing what she did," Christian Hollinger, a former student of Gauthier. Hollinger said he has a very fond memory of Ms. Gauthier.
"The best way I can describe her is she was the one who made the pineapple upside down cake and I don't even like pineapples and it was delicious," said Hollinger. Dr. Leonard said counseling sessions for students who were in Gauthier's class will continue tomorrow.
A memorial service and balloon release put together by students will be held at Lafayette High School on Thursday.