MINONG– Paul Vaara, a long-time teacher and coach at Northwood School, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, Feb. 9.
“Mr. Paul Vaara filled many roles within our Northwood Family,” said Superintendent Scot Kelly. “Throughout his 24 years at Northwood, he taught many grade levels and subject areas.
“In addition to being a beloved elementary and middle school teacher, he was also a dedicated coach for multiple sports, dear friend and colleague, active community member, and devoted husband and father – as his wife and two daughters are also part of the larger Northwood Family," Kelly said.
Vaara was teaching fifth grade this year and previously taught middle school social studies. A longtime coach, he was set this year to coach girls softball. His wife, Erin, is a special education teacher at the school, and their two daughters also attend Northwood.
School districts and organizations from around the area have lent a hand and offered support and counseling for the students and staff.
“The outpouring of support from neighboring school districts (Hayward, Shell Lake, Spooner), mental health professionals (Anchor Bay and NorthLakes), and local clergy (Calvary Lutheran and The River Church) has been amazing, Kelly said. “Additional area resources have also reached out to offer their assistance to both the school and the family.”
Vaara was praised on social media.
“I will never forget the humor and wisdom that Paul has taught/shown my kids,” said Ashlee Strenke in a Facebook posting.
“He was one of my favorite teachers, I still think about him 10 years later. He will be missed. What a wonderful person,” April McNamara said on another posting.
Added Kim Tanner Asp, “Paul was a great man, teacher and coach.”
“The Northwood School District and surrounding communities are profoundly saddened by Mr. Vaara’s death,” Kelly said. “Our hearts go out to his family and friends with our most sincere condolences.”
Celebration of Life
Vaara’s Celebration of Life will be on Saturday, Feb. 15, in the Northwood School Auditorium at noon with a luncheon following. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to noon.