Librarian Sandy Foley believes Susan Woodin knew her time on Earth was short. Although she had seen the Carson Middle School teacher pare some of her activities recently, from running to walking, for example, she had never seen her stop.
"Susan was just an exceptional person," she said. "She was not your standard person by any means. She was just smarter than the average bear.
"The main thing about Susan is I think she realized she didn't have a lot of time, and she had the ability to look at each day as a gift. She would take that and live every single day that way."
Woodin, a science teacher at the middle school, died Monday night in her sleep. The 46-year-old was hired in 1992 by the Carson City School District and started teaching at Fremont Elementary School, switching to Carson Junior High the year it became Carson Middle School.
"She never felt sorry for herself," Foley said. "For someone who could have had their head down, she didn't. I think that's something we have all learned from her. She made every second count in her life and in the life of her students."
Woodin suffered from an arrhythmic heart- a heart with an irregularity in its beat.
"She was taking medication to control it," said Principal Sam Santillo. "Along those lines, she used to get severe migraines. According to Greg, her husband, they were getting worse."
Woodin, who had come to talk to Santillo about her border collies Monday afternoon, spoke of a migraine then.
"I got to see Susan about 1:30 p.m.," he said. "It had nothing to do with education. She's an avid trainer of border collies. That's what she did all this summer - work with those dogs and get them ready for agility training.
Susan's husband, a hydrologist with Desert Research Institute, told Santillo that Susan suffered from a migraine throughout the rest of Monday evening. Tuesday morning he went on an errand and, when he returned, was unable to rouse his wife.
Woodin was a member of a team of sixth-grade teachers, 6B, who taught math, science, English and social studies.
"I was on her team for 11 years," said Jean Spell, the social studies teacher. "And she was always a wonderful team member to work with. She was devoted and loyal, not just to the teachers, but the students as well.
"And I'm going to miss her so much. She teaches right next door to me. I talk with her everyday. We talk about our kids, our husbands, our families, all those things,"
Psychologists were called in Tuesday to provide support for the 100-plus staff at the middle school. A long-term substitute teacher will fill Woodin's place.
Woodin enjoyed the outdoors and was into hiking, skiing and mountain-climbing, colleagues said. She frequented Jobs Peak with her husband and once biked parts of the Tour de France with him.
"Susan Woodin was a wonderful teacher, but she was even more than that," said Superintendent Mary Pierczynski, who met Woodin when she was a CMS assistant principal. "She was just a lovely person, and she was so kind to the students. And we are really going to miss her."
In the past three years, three Carson Middle School teachers have died, Chris Baker and Chris Granier both from cancer. Other losses have hit staff families.
"The staff has been through a tremendous amount in the past three years," Santillo said. "But you know we grow stronger and get better. This is the best staff in the district."
"The thing that needs to be stressed about Susan Woodin is she is the most kindest, gentlest person to be around," said Santillo. "She's the epitome of what you want in a teacher."
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.