Educator dies after freak choking accident

Pupils, teachers and parents at a prestigious Joburg private school are in shock after one of their teachers died in a freak accident last week.

Lisa Grainger, a grade 5 teacher at St Stithians College in Sandton, northern Joburg, passed away after a choking accident on July 21, the school said in a letter to parents.

It is alleged she choked on a piece of pineapple from a pizza.

Anne Fyfe-Hitchings, the spokesperson for the college, said the school was unable to answer questions around Grainger’s death out of respect for the privacy of her family and loved ones.

“We have reached out to the family and they have in turn asked that they be given privacy and time to grieve their profound loss,” she said.

Sunday World has established the incident did not happen at the school.

In the letter sent to parents on July 22, the acting head of the girls’ preparatory school, Angelique Walters, said: “Ms Grainger passed away tragically and unexpectedly last evening [July 21] after a choking incident. It is with a heavy heart that I extend my heartfelt condolences to all the staff, parents, and girls at the Girls’ Prep.

“Ms Grainger was more than just an exceptional teacher; she was a true inspiration to everyone fortunate enough to know her.

“Her passion for teaching, and the arts as well as her genuine care for her students’ well-being left an indelible mark on the lives of countless young girls,” said Walters in the letter.

Grainger had been teaching at the Methodist Church-affiliated school for 19 years.

“As we grieve this profound loss together, we need to be strong for each other and for our girls.

“Please be aware that our GP (girls’ prep) psychologist Ms May Padayachee is currently travelling overseas.

“We have made arrangements for the Girls’ College psychologists, Carey Dellbridge and Refilwe Modise, to be present to support and contain the Girls’ Prep community.

“Should your daughter not feel up to coming to school on Monday, that is absolutely fine. Please can parents communicate their daughter’s absence with the relevant tutor/teacher,” said Walters in the letter.

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