MOCKSVILLE, N.C. — Lynn Tutterow was a “whatever-it-takes” type of teacher.
That might mean dancing, rapping or singing to get kids to remember a pertinent fact about Africa’s Iron Age or Galileo or going back to school to get her Master’s degree in American history at the age of 57.
Tutterow, a social studies teacher at Davie County High School, died Tuesday in an automobile wreck in Salisbury, sending shock waves through the county’s tight-knit school community, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
“You don’t expect a teacher to be there one day teaching and not there the next day,” said Elizabeth Gordon, a guidance counselor at Davie High.
Counselors and area ministers spent Wednesday at the high school helping students and staff members work through their grief.
In addition, posters were set up in different hallways for students to write some of their thoughts, and students in her world history and Bible history classes wrote notes that will be given to Tutterow’s family, which includes her husband, Dean, and daughters, Caitlin and Anna.
Staff and students also gathered for a vigil on the football field after school.
One girl spoke up in the vigil, crediting Tutterow with talking her out of suicide.
“The students were sad; they were numb,” Gordon said. “She was a well-liked teacher.”
Though serious in her dedication to teaching, Tutterow wasn’t past getting silly if that’s what was needed.
“Her No. 1 goal in life was to broaden students’ perspectives and open their minds, to show them that there is more than one way to look at things,” said Jodi Houston, who taught with Tutterow for 10 years in the school’s social studies department.
Mikayla Thomas had world history with Tutterow as a freshman.
While studying the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, Tutterow popped in a video of the Bangles’ song, “Walk Like an Egyptian.”
“She got the whole class to get up and dance,” said Thomas, now a junior. “No one wanted to do it at first, but eventually, everyone got up.”
Tutterow and three other members of her family were going out to eat on Tuesday around 4 p.m. when their Honda Accord was rammed in the back by a truck driven by Brian Keith Hall, according to a report by the Salisbury Police Department.
Tutterow and her aunt, Hattie Smith McCulloh, 93, of Advance, both backseat passengers, were killed.
Tutterow’s mother, Leona McCulloh, 82, of Advance, a passenger in the front seat, was in critical condition today at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
The car’s driver, Pamela McCulloh Crump, 61, of Greensboro was taken to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center. Her condition was not available. Her relationship to the other women was not clear.
Hall was not injured and has not been charged, Salisbury Police said.
Tutterow had deep roots in Davie County. She graduated from the high school in 1975 and returned to teach in the county in 1992 after working in Montgomery County Schools.
At Davie High, she taught social studies and developed an elective that focused on atrocities and world peace. She was also a pioneer in the high school’s science, technology, engineering and math initiative.
Houston said Tutterow’s classes were known to be challenging.
“She wanted students on a daily basis to be engaged in what they were doing,” Houston said.
Tutterow also enjoyed being a student. Most recently, she was one of 51 teachers nationwide to receive a fellowship from the James Madison Memorial Foundation. The honor comes with $24,000 toward a Master’s degree that includes a concentration of classes on the U.S. Constitution.
She also sponsored the school’s STAND Club, which teaches kids how to stand up against genocide and human rights violations.
“She was the best friend you could possibly imagine,” Houston said. “She was always happy about being here.”