HAM LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) – A second grade Isanti teacher dedicated to her students for 31 years never made it her classroom Friday morning.
According to Anoka County deputies, 54-year-old Norene L. Callahan died in an early morning car crash on her way to her job at Isanti Primary School.
Authorities said Callahan was driving north along Lexington Avenue when she lost control of her Honda sedan and began to spin. It appears slick road conditions from freshly fallen snow in the morning were a factor in the crash.
Callahan crossed into the southbound lane of traffic and was struck by a Chevrolet pickup truck. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured, according to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
Superintendent Bruce Novak described Callahan as a woman who cared more for others than herself in her 31 years with the district.
“I think that’s the part that people are really going to miss,” he said.
Jenni Strike, a special education teacher at Isanti Primary, says she remembers Callahan from when she was a student at the school.
“She always had a smile, she always had time to say hi to someone in the hallway. She remembered her students, talked about former students, upcoming students. She was a very lovely lady. Her kids would go up and give her hugs in the morning. They couldn’t wait to show her things,” said Strike.
Novak says the school district personally called the parents of her students, and many of the parents came to the school to take their kids home for the day. Social workers were also on hand for counseling, Novak said.
Sandra Williford volunteered in Callahan’s room and says the devastation goes even deeper. Callahan has a twin sister who also is a teacher in the district, at the Isanti Intermediate school.
“They would tag team back and forth, when she was gone, her sister would fill in. It was hard to tell the difference, but the students knew which one was which. And they are both super people, and I feel so bad for her right now,” said Williford.
The Anoka County medical examiner ruled Callahan died from multiple blunt force injuries suffered in the crash.
Callahan leaves behind her husband and two adult children.
“Norene really epitomizes what a teacher is all about, heart and caring for children,” said Novak. “I use the analogy often that we throw that pebble into the water, and the ripples spread on forever. Maureen has thrown a lot of pebbles into the water, and the ripples are still spreading out.”