Fayetteville teacher collapses at school, dies

Posted January 24

— A Fayetteville middle school teacher died Tuesday after collapsing at school, officials said.

James Pietrowski, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at Max Abbott Middle School, was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Pietrowski was 27, according to school officials.

The school system sent an automated message to parents around 4:30 p.m. informing them and students of Pietrowski's death. The automated message said Pietrowski died from an ongoing medical condition.

Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said Pietrowski wasn't teaching class when he collapsed Tuesday at Max Abbott Middle School, and there were no students around. Till said Pietrowski was with other faculty members when he went into distress.

"The crash team started administering CPR and started using the defibrilator, but when paramedics got here and took him to the hospital he passed away," said school board member Greg West.

Pietrowski taught and coached football and soccer at the school for 3 years, according to West. Pietrowski's wife also is a teacher at the school.

Fellow coach Matthew Holdstein said it was typical to see Pietrowski in a good mood, but Tuesday morning he was exceptionally happy.

"He called one of the local radio stations at the crack of dawn and had won some tickets to some concert and then an all-day spa pass that he was going to give to his wife," Holdstein said.

Holdstein is also a teacher at Max Abbott Middle School and, coincidently, was talking to Pietrowski's wife when he got the news of what had happened.

"One of the other teachers just came down and took her, didn't say anything to me, just took her. And I kind of saw that out of the corner of my eye as they were leaving and I thought 'okay, something is extremely wrong here'," he said.

Holstein said he'll remember Pietrowski as a diehard New England Patriots fan but, more importantly, as a man who cared about the students he interacted with daily, even outside of school.

"He would go to them and speak to them and their parents for however long it took. If it took an hour at a grocery store, so be it. It amazed me about him because, me, I need my space. He didn't. He loved it, all the time," he said.

Councelors were brought to the school Tuesday afternoon and will be on hand for students and staff again Wednesday.


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  • Marie Brandsdorfer Jan 25, 2017
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    Praying for his wife and family, our hearts are breaking for you.

  • Karen Orndorff Jan 25, 2017
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    So sad, prayers for the family.

  • Kevin Weidner Jan 25, 2017
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    The good ones always go to early. Rest in peace coach.

  • Wayne Smith Jan 25, 2017
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    Prayers to the wife and family. By the article he was a great teacher.

  • Andy Jackson Jan 24, 2017
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    So very sad indeed. My sincerest prayers with Jim's family, and his students.

  • Janet Ghumri Jan 24, 2017
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    So terribly sad. Prayers for the family and the students. RIP