The East Mountain High School community is mourning the sudden death of one of its teachers and coaches. Crystal Wood, 52, who taught English and Drama and was the school’s golf coach, died unexpectedly Sept. 23, principal Trey Smith said in an email to students and parents Wednesday afternoon.

Wood became ill with a pre-existing health condition (not Covid related) and died, Smith wrote, adding, “Her impact on the thousands of students she taught for so many years will be felt for a lifetime. This loss will raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students.”

Smith’s email said the school has counselors available for any students or parents who may need or want help or assistance surrounding this loss. He added, “Our priority is the mental health and well-being of our students and our staff at this time,” and, “We are devastated by this loss to our school community.”

Wood was in her 25th year of teaching, the past five with East Mountain, Smith said.

Former East Mountain principal Monique Siedschlag, a close friend of Wood, said via email, “Crystal Wood was a dynamic and energetic teacher who was completely dedicated to her students. She loved to bring fun and laughter to the classroom. She always had a ready smile, enjoyed making others laugh and looked for the best in everyone. She was dedicated to her family, her friends, her profession and loved her students. Golf was one of her passions and she was excited to share it with her EMHS team. Crystal leaves a tremendous void and will be sorely missed by all.”

East Mountain’s new athletic director, Kasi Giovenco, said that she and Wood started to get to know each other really well over the last year. “For the short time that I knew her, she helped me get my footing at East Mountain. She was a genuine person who lived for the kids at our school,” she said.

Wood had been named as the school’s golf coach recently; the golf season was postponed to October due to Covid restrictions.