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Arts academy staff grieve loss of 'teacher of the teachers'

Becky Vargo • Dec 12, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Courtney Frazine was a dynamic presence at the West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics.

She had a huge heart, said the Ferrysburg school’s director, Steve Chartier. “There wasn’t a child in this school building that she didn’t love.”

The 39-year-old Fruitport woman died Saturday afternoon after she was hit by a car while jogging along Pontaluna Road, not far from Fruitport Middle School. Police said an 18-year-old Norton Shores woman lost control of her vehicle and hit the jogger. Recent snow had left slippery spots on the roads.

Frazine was most recently the literacy coach for the charter school.

“This has been devastating for the staff,” Chartier said Monday. “It’s a day of great sadness here in the academy.” 

Chartier said the school’s crisis team gathered over the weekend when they heard of Frazine’s death.

“We wanted to keep things in place,” he said. “We realize there are different ways of grieving. Moving on with the curriculum provides stability and consistency.”

The director said that he heard from several teachers, who said they “needed to be here with their kiddos to work through this.” 

The former Courtney Cooper grew up in Fruitport, graduated from Fruitport High School and did her student teaching in Fruitport, Chartier said.

Frazine started at WMAAA as a part-time reading interventionist. The following year she became a full-time staff member. At the end of next month, she would have celebrated five years with WMAAA.

Chartier said that Frazine was promoted to literacy coach just last month. This position is designed to be a teacher of the teachers, he explained.

“She was a dynamic educator,” Chartier said. “She was well underway and was very excited about her new role.”

Although school went on as scheduled Monday, social workers on staff were available for the students, a community mental health worker was onsite for staff, and a local pastor whose children attend the school was available for the parents.

The plan is to move on, just as Frazine would have wanted them to do, Chartier said. However, the school plans to do something in the future to honor her.

“We first of all want to give Courtney’s family time to grieve,” Chartier said. “Then we will reach out to the family for an appropriate way to honor her.”

Chartier said he had not been notified of any funeral arrangements as of early Monday afternoon.

Frazine leaves behind her husband, Duane, and two small children.

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