FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne Community Schools is mourning the loss of a teacher who died over the weekend while in Kosciusko County with her husband.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources officers said Natalie Zellers, 38, of Fort Wayne, was swimming with her husband in Silver Lake on Saturday. Both were using life jackets. Zellers and her husband got into a boat, where they both removed the life jackets. At one point, Zellers was standing up in the boat, fell backward into the water, went under, and never resurfaced. Investigators said her husband went in after her, but couldn’t get to her. Conservation officers found her body in 22 feet of water three hours later.
Zellers’ death comes two weeks before students head back to school at FWCS.
“We’re all very sad and trying to imagine how we will fill that hole that she left,” said Pam Musick, FWCS Assistant Superintendent of Elementary.
Zellers was a second grade teacher at Washington Center Elementary School off of Wallen Road. Musick said she has been at the school for a few years, but has taught at a couple other elementary schools across the district before coming to Washington Center. Musick said everyone across the district is heavily impacted by her death, especially with school starting back in two weeks.
“We did get the teachers together yesterday for a staff gathering so we could console each other and try to process what happened,” said Musick.
As teachers and staff gathered Sunday, Musick said everyone focused on Zellers’ personality and her close attention to details.
“She was just the little life to the party at the school and cared so much about everything being just right for her students,” Musick said.
FWCS administrators said former students who had her before will have a piece of her. They said they will always remember her smile and sensor of humor.
Musick said grief counselors will be on hand for staff, teachers and students for the next few weeks.
Zellers’ cause of death has yet to be determined.