The Star-Herald

SAD 1 mourns loss of beloved math teacher

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Students, faculty and staff of SAD 1 are grieving the loss of Presque Isle High School math teacher Paul Ballerstein, who died unexpectedly on Friday morning.

“We all feel his loss,” SAD 1 Superintendent Ben Greenlaw said on Monday. “He not only taught here, he grew up here and went to Presque Isle schools. He is well known in the community.”

Ballerstein taught at the high school for nine years. 

Greenlaw notified families, faculty and staff on the SAD 1 website Friday about Ballerstein’s death.

“It is with incredible sadness that I share with the MSAD 1 community that Presque Isle High School math teacher, Paul Ballerstein, passed away unexpectedly this morning. Paul was a respected teacher and graduate of Presque Isle High School,” Greenlaw said.

Since Friday morning, guidance counselors and social workers have been available at the high school for students and staff.  

Monday was the first day students were in school following Ballerstein’s death, and many filled out cards for his family, Presque High School Principal Dave Bartlett said. 

“We will take them to the family later this week,” he said. “Guidance also made a poster that students signed for his family. It was just another way for the kids to express their feelings.”

Both Greenlaw and Bartlett shared some thoughts about Ballerstein. 

“When I think of Paul, I think energetic, positive, creative. I appreciated how invested he was in the learning of his students. I heard from the high school that students are sad and disappointed,” Greenlaw said.

“He was a very knowledgeable and energetic teacher, it was evident when you walked in his classroom. … He made a point of celebrating student success,” Bartlett said. “He had some of my own children and he was always conscientious about reaching out to students and parents when they were successful. “

And on several social media posts, memories of Ballerstein mirrored Bartlett’s feelings. 

“He was an amazing teacher. I had him my sophomore year.” 

“He was THE BEST geometry teacher.”

“Literally one of the best teachers at PIHS.”

“OMG I grew up with Paul and graduated with him, very sad day.”

At this time, there is no information available regarding memorial services or funeral arrangements. 

The school said they will leave any memorial services to the privacy of the family.

“Unfortunately, this is a sad loss for our school family,” Bartlett said. “He will be missed.”

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