A Wake Forest High School English teacher who died in a crash Tuesday afternoon was described by her colleagues as a passionate, enthusiastic and driven educator.
Michelle Simone Barlow, 42, of Wake Forest was killed when her minivan was smashed between a dump truck and a tractor-trailer on Capital Boulevard just south of the Burlington Mills Road intersection.
Barlow was well-liked by her first-year English students, said Wake Forest High principal Patti Hamler.
“She gave them a lot of direction and reminded them daily why they were here and what they were here to do,” Hamler said.
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A GoFundMe online fundraising page created in Barlow’s honor had raised more than $6,200 by Friday evening, two days after it was created.
“We will grieve and we will hurt together with and for the family!” the GoFundMe page says. “If you feel led to be a part of this please know that this will be a wonderful way to serve the family and alleviate any pressure for the days to come.”
Hamler said Barlow’s husband brought a stack of students’ work to school after the crash. She found a note Barlow had written, along with a list of work-related things to do. The note said simply, “Focus.”
The Wake Forest High School community has been in mourning since Barlow died, Hamler said. On Thursday, students were encouraged to take part in discussions and create poetry. Counselors were on hand to help students work through the trauma.
Geraldine Woods, who taught at Wake Forest for years before retiring, volunteered to take over Barlow’s class until the end of the school year.
Barlow started working in the Wake County Public School System in January 2015. She was an English teacher at Panther Creek High School from January until June of last year and began teaching at Wake Forest High in August, according to a schools spokesperson.
Before her death, Barlow planned to spend some time on a half-day intervention program with students who needed extra help.
English teacher Stephanie Harris said she will remember her colleague’s drive.
“Her passion for everything really is what resonates for me,” Harris said.
Rita Coby, another teacher, said Barlow’s enthusiasm was contagious.
“She inspired the rest of us, I think, to step up our game a little bit,” she said.
Donald Wayne Caulder, 29, of Laurinburg, who was driving the dump truck, and Marvin Douglas Erb, 49, of Danville, Va., who was driving the tractor-trailer, both were taken to WakeMed Hospital after the crash, said Lt. Jeff Gordon, spokesman for the State Highway Patrol.
Troopers believed neither had life-threatening injuries, Gordon said.
Accident investigators planned to speak with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether charges should be filed, Gordon said.
Funeral arrangements for Barlow have not yet been made.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi