Megan Wolff was the kind of teacher who always had alumni passing through Room 107 to poke their heads around her class, catch up with her, or give her a hug – if not all of the above.
Those closest to Wolff say she was born to be a loving mother to her two children and the hundreds of kindergarten students she has looked after throughout her 10-year career in the division Winnipeg School.
“She would do anything for my sister and I, and for anyone she loved – and that included her students. She gave her students everything, ”said her adult son, Alex Kirbyson.
Each year around Christmas, Wolff was overwhelmed with handmade cards, chocolates, and other appreciative gifts. This year, she was unable to properly say goodbye to her students at JB Mitchell School before winter break.
Wolff experienced flu-like symptoms on December 20 that forced her to skip the last days of class in 2021. Her symptoms became so severe that 911 was called the next day.
The healthy 53-year-old man, who had received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. Wolff then went into cardiac arrest and experienced a severe immune response. She died on Christmas morning at Saint-Boniface Hospital.
The exact details of the cause of death and where she contracted the virus remain unclear.
The province’s COVID-19 school dashboard shows that only one exposure occurred at JB Mitchell, which has 400 students, in the two weeks leading up to December 21.
In any given academic year, Wolff could have more than 40 students, between the morning and afternoon slots.
The large number of students meant the report card time was a challenge, but she made a point of writing personalized messages for each student, said Andy Gow, her 7.5-year-old partner – the latter involving a lot of planning to manage a long distance relationship. (Wolff lived in Winnipeg; Gow was stationed in Colorado) despite travel restrictions.
“There was no cut and paste with her,” he said, adding that his partner had done everything with love.
“She didn’t know of any other way. She was an amazing friend, an amazing mother, an amazing teacher.
Wolff was an avid supporter of play-based learning, which often took students on seasonal nature walks in River Heights, a neighborhood she called her home for decades.
Penny McLandress, a teaching assistant, said her friend had set up a “warm and happy atmosphere” in her classroom. She enjoyed introducing students to new music and singing along with them, whether it was The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun or some other heartwarming tune, McLandress said.
Pandemic disruptions inevitably took a toll on teacher well-being, given the stress of online learning for four-year-olds and the attempt at social distancing from young people who could not bear. masks in the past 21 months.
She found solace in sharing her struggles with fellow educators, a book club with friends, and taking her beloved companion, a Husky named Jasper, on long walks.
“She didn’t hesitate. She was determined and she did the best job she could during a really, really stressful time, ”said Jennifer Carter, her slightly older twin sister.
The sisters, along with their parents and younger brother, moved from Ottawa to Winnipeg in the mid-1980s for their father’s job. The twins both enrolled at the University of Manitoba to continue teaching. Although they have a lot in common, Carter is the outgoing twin, and Wolff was known to be more introverted.
Wolff was the only family member to extend her stay and settle in Winnipeg, where she met the man who would become the father of her children and husband for 15 years; Geoff Kirbyson and Wolff maintained a friendship after their split.
Mia Kirbyson said her mother was known to be a welcoming, non-judgmental and ‘down to earth’ presence – so much so that the 24-year-old’s friends often turned to Wolff for advice.
After a busy fall, Mia, Alex, and their mom had planned to relax together over the holidays, perhaps with board games and horror movies. Wolff had already wrapped his children’s gifts, some of which remained intact under his Christmas tree.
In recent days, in the midst of raw grief, Alex said he has found solace in the photos and adornments of the cherubs that decorate his mother’s home.
“My mother has always loved angels. She went there as one for Halloween in her class, and she has them all over her house, ”said the 21-year-old. “In a way, she kind of becomes our Christmas angel.”
In a letter sent to the JB Mitchell community on Boxing Day, Principal Paulette Huggins described Wolff as a much respected and valued educator, “(whose) caring nature and great love for teaching children will be remembered. young children “.
The division’s clinical support services staff are expected to visit the elementary school in the New Year to support the grieving community.