SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The Saratoga Springs school community on Monday was mourning the unexpected death of high school English teacher James Flanders, who was involved in the high school's interdisciplinary learning program. Counseling is being made available for staff and students.
Flanders died Saturday following a sudden medical event, the school district said on its website. His wife, Kathryn, is also an English teacher at the high school. They have two young sons.
"This is a heartbreaking time for everyone in our community," school Superintendent Michael Patton said on the district's website. "Through our high school crisis response team, we have developed a plan to help support students and staff during this difficult time, including making sure we have counselors available throughout the school day to provide support."
The counselors are expected to remain available for several days.
A GoFundMe page set up by another teacher to help Flanders' family surpassed its $20,000 goal in a single day, with more than 300 people making donations or offering comments by late Monday afternoon. Dozens of staff, former students and parents of former students offered tributes to the teacher for being a friend, mentoring their writing, and being a positive role model.
"On April 6th, the world lost Jim Flanders, a beloved husband, father, son, brother, teacher, and friend," the GoFundMe campaign organizer, Social Studies teacher Leanne Donelan, wrote on the fundraising page.
"Jim was an amazing person who inspired all who crossed his path. His devotion and love for his family was immeasurable," the post continued. "We would like to help support his wife Kathryn and their two sons, Harrison & Eoghan. We are raising funds to help with their living expenses, daycare, food, and anything else they may need during this difficult time."
Flanders had worked for the Saratoga Springs City School District since October 2010 and was granted tenure in 2013. For the last several years, he had been an English teacher in the high school's SPA (Saratoga Pathways Academy) program, which offers interdisciplinary, project-based learning, the district said. He also served as adviser to the SciFi/Fantasy Club and the Graphic Design and Printing Club.
"His passing is a huge loss for our school community," Patton said in a statement to The Gazette. "He was a huge advocate for the interdisciplinary, project-based learning we offer through our SPA program, and he has made a personal connection with every student he worked with. We extend our deepest condolences to his family at this very difficult time."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized, according to the school district.