Passing of Teacher Tommy Ultan-Thomas


Dear Granada Hills Charter Community,

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write today of the passing of our teacher, Mr. Tommy Ultan-Thomas, better known to students and the community as Mr. U.T. Late last night Tommy's family informed us that Tommy passed away yesterday (Monday) morning. At this time, we do not have additional information to share, but will as soon as the family provides that to us.

Mr. U.T. was 70 years old, and many of us were on-hand a few weeks ago when he celebrated his birthday. He began his education career in 1984 and, in 1994, joined the Granada Hills family as a science teacher. Tommy proudly served his country and served four deployments in the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s. He didn't talk about it much, but when he did, the stories were gripping.

Tommy’s accomplishments and passions were many. The achievements of his students and their ability to apply scientific thinking to their personal and academic lives was a source of constant joy for him. He reveled in letters from students, past and present, and shared their accomplishments with his colleagues. His inquisitive mind and curiosity for the world of science exploration and the new achievements in the field always drew him to journals and papers that he strategically wove into his curriculum to go beyond the confines of the textbook content.

He was an avid gardener who turned to the earth for fresh produce and enthusiastically shared the toils of his labor: the best-looking eggplants, artichokes and figs. His mobile succulent garden at school was the envy of his colleagues. His love for Latin and Spanish poetry and language drew students to his room during lunch and nutrition. He will be dearly missed.

A teacher’s passing is hard for all of us, but it is especially difficult for youngsters. For some students, the death of Mr. U.T. will tap into emotions connected with personal losses; for others it may be a first encounter. It’s important that we all look out for and be there for one another. We want to assure all students and families that we will do our best to address the emotional and academic needs of our students at this difficult time.

Counseling staff on campus will be available next week after we return from Spring Break.  The community-based agency resources listed below are provided to assist you in locating local appropriate community-based organizations that will provide low cost health and human resources for students:

Teen Line:
800/TLC-TEEN or www.teenlineonline.org
 
Our House Grief Support Center:
 
Youth Crisis Hotline:
800/843.5200
 
Valley Coordinated Children’s Services:
818/708.4500

Our House, an organization that provides support for those dealing with grief, provided resources about grief that you can read by clicking below.
As always, if you have any questions or wish to share information, please contact one of the administrators or me. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ultan-Thomas family and all those who mourn the life of a well loved and respected teacher.
 
Sincerely,
 
Brian Bauer
Executive Director