GRANVILLE – Putnam County School students and faculty are mourning the loss of a teacher, a mentor, a colleague and a friend.
High school English teacher Judy Gedraitis died on Dec. 2 as a result of a sudden illness. Gedraitis was in London, England, with her family to attend her daughter’s wedding, which could not be held because of the tragedy.
Gedraitis came to Putnam County in 2007, and she quickly became a mentor and a font of advice for many of her colleagues. She was close to all of her fellow teachers — it’s hard not to be in a small school — but fellow English teacher Carmella Rodriguez probably knew her best.
“She was, quite frankly, the best person I knew. She was so caring in the classroom with her students,” Rodriguez said. “She taught high level classes, but she also taught what we call credit recovery for students who really struggle. She had such a way with the high, high kids, but also had a way with the ones who struggled. The range of kids who loved her and are impacted by this is huge.”
She spoke often of her family with a pride and joy like any other mother’s. She helped her daughter in Washington, D.C., plan her wedding in England, handling the logistics of a cross-Atlantic affair, and spoke often of her equally-important stepson and his five wonderful children, with a sixth on the way.
“Our staff and students are also grieving this profound loss in our Putnam County Schools,” Putnam County Schools Superintendent Jay McCracken said. “Mrs. G. possessed such grace, dignity and wisdom in all aspects of her life. While always expecting the best from her students, she knew how to connect with them, recognizing just what would help them the most, academically and socially. Judy’s fellow teachers and administrators relied upon her expertise and caring friendship. Everyone knew that she was a rock of strength, yet offered a well of kindness whenever needed.”
It was not uncommon for both students and teachers to seek Gedraitis out for advice, whether about school or personal problems. While she didn’t handle any extracurricular activities, she volunteered for many of the teacher boards, always looking for a way to make the student experience better and more rewarding.
“Judy Gedraitis was not only an extraordinary educator in working with her students; she was also a dear friend and role model to those of us who had the honor of calling her our colleague,” fellow English teacher Kaitlyn Ralph said. “As a teacher who immensely admired Mrs. Gedraitis’ intelligence and compassion, I cannot express just how deeply we all miss her presence. During this time of healing and long after, we will continue to follow the lessonsáJudy has taught both inside and outside of the classroom.”
“She was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met,” Rodriguez said. “She was an exceptional teacher. We’ve really lost a great, great teacher.”