The Grandview Heights City School District community is reeling from the unexpected death of intervention specialist Brandon Theiss, 39, who died July 26 at Mount Carmel West.
"Shock and sadness are the first words that come to mind," said Grandview Heights High School Assistant Principal Shawn Hinkle, who worked with Theiss in Canal Winchester before joining him in Grandview.
"He was such a young man, and there were no major health concerns," Hinkle said. "It's devastating for all of his students and his colleagues."
Theiss was a middle school special-education teacher in Grandview and also worked with students at the high school level.
"What stood out about Brandon was just his genuine caring for his students," Hinkle said. "He had two families. Of course, there was his wife and two daughters at home; they were his first family. But anyone watching how Brandon related to his students could see they were also family to him."
As an educator, Theiss demonstrated flexibility in working with students and other teachers, he said.
"He was always willing to find new ways to support and meet the needs of his students," Hinkle said, "and he was flexible in arranging his time with students that fit in with other teachers' schedules.
"The amount of effort he would put in for his students was unmatched," Hinkle said.
An example was the Bobcat Beverages Coffee House, a shop operated last school year by four students from Theiss' class each Friday morning at the high school.
Theiss had started a similar program in Canal Winchester and brought the concept to Grandview, Hinkle said.
"The coffee house gave Brandon's students a chance to do different things and feel a sense of accomplishment operating the shop every week," he said.
"It also opened up an opportunity for the rest of the student body to interact with the students from his class and put a bit of a spotlight on them," Hinkle said, "and it provided a valuable product that I know students and staff really appreciated."
Hinkle said he will always remember Theiss as "very caring, very genuine and soft-spoken, a good guy and a great teacher.
"We'll find someone to fill his position, but we really won't be able to replace Brandon," he said.
Theiss, who lived in Pickerington, was born Dec. 1, 1978, in Atlanta. He graduated from Ohio Dominican University and received a master's degree in special education from Antioch University. He played baseball for Westerville South High School and was a pitcher for Ohio Dominican.
He is survived by wife, Janel; his two daughters, Aylah and Kenley; parents, Duane and Mary Beth Theiss; siblings, Kelly Theiss and Zach Theiss; parents-in-law, Randy and Erma Sickmeier; sister-in-law, Janae (Chris) Bryant; and brothers-in-law, Jared Thomas and Joel Sickmeier.
Visitation was held July 31, at the Dwayne R. Spence Funeral Home in Pickerington, where a funeral service was held Aug. 1.
Condolences may be posted at www.spencefuneralhome.com.