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Jefferson High mourns loss of drama teacher

By Staff | Jun 10, 2016

Social media was filled with questions early Wednesday morning regarding Jefferson High drama teacher Steve Glendenning. All to soon those questions were answered as Sheriff Pete Dougherty confirmed that an individual had been found dead at the school after they responded to a welfare check on Glendenning.

Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson confirmed that Glendenning passed away in a statement to the media Wednesday morning.

:The students, staff, alumni and families of Jefferson High School lost one of our own today,” Gibson said in an email concerning Glendenning’s death. “We share our condolences and sadness with each and every one of our Jefferson High School Cougars.”

Jefferson High principal Sherry McCall-Ross sent a recorded message to all parents mid-day on Wednesday to relay the news of Glendenning’s death and to share that grief counselors were on hand at the school for staff members Wednesday. Those grief counselors will be at the school Thursday and Friday, McCall-Ross’s message indicated, for any staff member, student or family member who may need to reach out to them.

Glendenning was the Jefferson County Teacher of the Year in 2012 and the West Virginia Thespians Theatre Teacher of the Year in 2008. He was a 1995 graduate of Fairmont State University and had served as Jefferson’s drama teacher for nearly 20 years.

Gibson said upcoming days will be devoted to helping Glendenning’s peers and students cope.

“We have an area set up for groups,” Gibson said. “We have rooms set up for individual counseling sessions for parents whose children may have known him.”

As students had conversed with their questions in the early morning hours seeking confirmation of the news of Glendenning’s suicide, so those students and their parents continued to converse throughout the day via Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat with thoughts of ‘G’,’ as he was known.

Jayne Caniford Mumaw commented, “A huge loss for JHS .. he was a asset for the drama department! He was always very pleasant to work with … just a[n] all around super guy.”

Katina Jackson-McDonald commented, “Prayers being lifted for Mr. G and his family!! He was a great teacher that meant so much to all of his students and friends. I never seen a teacher love his job so much like Mr. G!!!….R.I.P you will greatly be missed!”

Many called for prayer for Glendenning’s family and for his current and former students.

Students and peers of Glendenning gathered Wednesday evening at a candlelight vigil at Jefferson High School to share in their grief and mourn the loss of one who had so much positive influence on so many students.

Staffer Anne Portrey shared that she and Glendenning would meet each morning in the media center where there sits a large dictionary.

“We would close our eyes and point and whatever we landed on would be the word of the day,” she said. “I told Mrs. Lueck that book has to go.”

Others including current and former students shared tears and laughter as they remembered Glendenning. Many expressed disbelief. Tears flowed freely as the group began a chorus of “Amazing Grace” as candles were lit and lifted high. ‘G’ could be heard as the group spoke the letter that so many called their teacher.

Various memorial ideas were discussed abstractly with concrete information to come via social media later this week.

Those with questions or concerns may call the school at 304-725-8491 Thursday or Friday.