Counselors to help Fort Mill teachers cope with colleague’s death

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comAugust 14, 2013 

— Rebecca New, art teacher at Gold Hill Middle School the past three years, died Sunday after falling off a Lake Wylie dock.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say New, 31, slipped and fell off a dock on Here At Last Lane in Steele Creek and died of injuries from hitting a metal pipe. The incident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this very difficult time,” Fort Mill School District Superintendent Chuck Epps said in a statement released by the district Sunday.

“She was a beloved teacher at Gold Hill Elementary School and will be missed by students, teachers, parents, and the entire Fort Mill School District family.”

Originally from Conway, New graduated from Winthrop University and interned at Gold Hill during her master’s program. Once finished, she was hired to replace a retiring art teacher.

Kelly McKinney, spokesperson for the Fort Mill School District, said New will be remembered as someone who loved her students and the adults who taught them.

“Rebecca absolutely loved working at Gold Hill Middle School,” McKinney said. “This is a tight-knit district and it is even more so at the school level. It’s your school family.”

Colleagues described New as organized and passionate about her work. “No problem” was her most common response. New made sure each child at the school of 850 students had something to display at the annual spring showcase. She held an after-school arts program for interested students. She spent two years chairing the related arts department.

The district will fill “her position but not her shoes,” McKinney said, though as of Monday there wasn’t a timeline. The first day of school is Aug. 21. Teachers return Wednesday.

“We will have counselors here on Wednesday in the event that they need to talk with somebody,” McKinney said.

In the days following New’s death, her parents and Foundation for Fort Mill Schools were in the early stages of putting together a scholarship fund to aid a student pursuing a career in art. Memorials were still being planned in Conway, then in the Fort Mill area “at some point,” McKinney said Monday.

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