Community grieves loss of Palatka middle school teacher

Tyler West, 36 collapsed while running

Author: Joy Purdy, 5:30, 6:30 and 11 p.m. anchor, jpurdy@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 21 2014 09:54:16 PM EST
Tyler West
PALATKA, Fla. -

The Jenkins Middle School community is grieving the loss of one of their beloved middle school teachers.

Tyler West, 36, died suddenly while running over the weekend.

"Tyler, you will never know the influence you have made on me. These kids loved you, rest in peace my brother. You'll never be forgotten in the eagle's nest," Principal Rick Cerrency at Jenkins Middle School read from a letter to West from one of the teachers at school.

"Our teachers loved him. He was just someone who was very personable," said Cerrency. "He's a hometown boy. Some of our teachers taught him years ago, so that especially hit a lot of our teachers pretty hard."

"We have a difficult time finding men who want to teach in schools and it's so wonderful when we have someone of his caliber, and the kind of mentoring and teaching he did for our students was really very special. The children loved him," said Superintendent Phyllis Criswell.

Channel 4 was told that West went jogging Sunday when he collapsed and efforts to revive him were not successful.

Students return to school Wednesday. Criswell said the school will have grief counselors on standby to help them deal with the emotional shock of West's death.

The school district also plans on having counselors at Palatka High School, where West coached football.

"He's touched a lot of lives in his short 36 years and it's something that is very hard to understand, but together we'll work through it and we'll make sure that all that he did for everybody while he was here," said Criswell. "All the students that have benefited from him will continue to appreciate what they've learned from him and be able to value that."