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FARMINGTON – Students and staff at two Central Consolidated School District elementary schools are mourning the death of a physical education teacher who was killed in a vehicle wreck this morning.

Tammy Shirley, a PE teacher at Naschitti and Newcomb Elementary Schools, was identified as the person killed in a vehicle wreck today,  according to CCSD Spokesman James Preminger.

CCSD interim Superintendent Colleen Bowman said in a statement that the district is deeply saddened by Shirley’s death.

“Ms. Shirley, whose work, caring and compassion meant so much to her students, will be missed by everyone,” Bowman said in the statement.

Details about the vehicle wreck are still limited. Preminger referred questions about the wreck to law enforcement.

New Mexico State Police and Navajo Police Department officers responded to a motor vehicle crash in the area of County Road 7010 around 8 a.m. this  morning, according to state police spokesman Sgt. Chad Pierce.

Pierce referred questions about the wreck to the Navajo Police Department, stating they were the primary investigating agency.

Efforts to obtain additional information from the Navajo Police Department office in Window Rock, Ariz. were unsuccessful Monday.

Shirley had been working as a physical education teacher at both elementary schools since 2007, according to Preminger. She also taught at Naschitti Elementary School for the 1996-1997 school year.

The principals at Naschitti and Newcomb Elementary schools both said Shirley was an excellent teacher who cared deeply about her students.

Dave Goldtooth, Naschitti Elementary School principal, said Shirley was a fabulous teacher who incorporated Navajo culture into her curriculum. He said Shirley worked with local non-profits to bring additional supplies and materials to the school.

“She will be greatly missed. She was well-liked by students, staff and the community,” Goldtooth said.

Deborah Belone, principal at Newcomb Elementary School, said several students and school staff asked to speak to counselors about Shirley's death. The district sent several counselors to both elementary schools to provide support for students and staff.

After-school activities were canceled at Newcomb elementary today  and Tuesday  to give staff time to mourn Shirley's death.

“She did an excellent job in not only providing PE services to our kids but overall, just being there for them emotionally and spiritually,” Belone said.

Two of Shirley's siblings also work at Newcomb elementary. Fourth-grade teacher Leroy Shirley and fifth-grade teacher O'Linda Shirley were not at school today , Belone said.

A letter from the district was sent home with students, notifying parents and community members about Shirley’s death.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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