SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Members of the community at Coles School are mourning the passing of Michelle Crisafulli, a first grade teacher at the school for the past 16 years and for 20 years overall. 

The news came via a letter addressed to parents from principal Karen Wetherell.

Michelle became the heart of Coles School. There was not a challenge she would not accept and not a problem she could not solve. She saw the best in all students and brought out the best in all people she worked with. "I can't" was not in her vocabulary.

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Michelle was a teacher, a colleague, a friend to all of Coles. Her impact on education will remain a part of Coles. I truly feel blessed and honored that Michelle was part of my life.  

-- Karen Wetherell, Ed. D., Principal, J.A. Coles Elementary School

Counselors will be available when school begins in September for any students who need support.

There will a private graveside ceremony next week, according to Principal Wetherell's letter. 

"The family has respectfully requested that we give them time to grieve in private at the cemetery as well as after the ceremony," Principal Wetherell wrote. "Please understand that many visitors will be overwhelming to Michelle and John's children, as well as to those who were closest to her.  It has also been requested that food or flowers not be sent at this time.  As a school, we will work together to find a way to best honor Michelle at a later time in the school year."

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