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Teaching community devastated after sudden loss of beloved Grafton teacher

Posted at 4:56 PM, Nov 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-28 19:28:08-05

GRAFTON — Students and staff in Grafton are missing their beloved fourth-grade teacher.

TODAY’S TMJ4 learned Jill Ruland passed away at an area hospital after a violent crash on Highway 60 the day before Thanksgiving.

Though she had been with Grafton Elementary School for a year. The superintendent says they will miss how Ms. Ruland, "...brought a positive energy every day to her classroom..."

Before that, she dedicated 11 years of her teaching career at Sectional Elementary in Mukwonago. The principal described how excited she was to start a new chapter in Grafton.

“We were excited about the things she wanted to bring to Grafton. Writing ability for kids to personalize and advocate for their own writing, and those are all things she had a passion for,” said Robert Slane, Section Elementary School Principal.

Which makes what happened last Wednesday all the more heartbreaking.

The violent crash took place near State Highway 60 and 1st Avenue. The Ozaukee County Sheriff says another SUV hit her head on when it drifted into another lane. That crash is still under investigation.

Her family and the school was not ready to talk on camera Tuesday.

Here is the full statement from Grafton School District:

Dear Grafton Learning Community,
As a follow-up to my earlier email about GES 4th grade teacher Ms. Jill Ruland, I am further saddened to report that today she passed away from the injuries she received in Wednesday’s car accident.  I apologize for the lateness of this message but the family requested that it not be shared earlier to allow them time to contact family members with this unfortunate news.  Out of respect to the family, we have honored their request.  Our entire Grafton community will mourn the loss of Ms. Ruland.  Although only in our district for this year, Jill made relationships with both staff and students that will last a lifetime.  She brought a positive energy every day to her classroom as well as to our district and will be missed.
Unfortunately, not all families will have an opportunity to have a discussion at home with their child before coming to school tomorrow.  If you have an opportunity to discuss Ms. Ruland’s passing in the safety of your home that would be ideal.  If you are able to speak with your child, please impress the importance of this not being shared with another student as this type of information really should be shared by an adult.  Just as we did this morning, we will have our school psychologists from across the district available at GES on Tuesday to talk with students and Dr. Noel will be in those meetings as well.
Children grieve in various ways and even if your child has not had direct contact with Ms. Ruland, he/she may still be very upset by this event.  If you have concerns about your child’s response, please feel free to reach out to any of our principal's or school psychologists and we will provide help.  I am attaching information regarding the grieving process and ways that you can help your children understand and cope with this tragedy.
Once funeral arrangements have been finalized, we will pass that additional information on to everyone.  Please keep Jill’s family, our staff and students in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Jeff S. Nelson - Superintendent