Current and former students of Christopher Ryan of Redwood City are mourning their beloved teacher, who was found dead Thursday after being missing for two days.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Ryan’s family during this difficult time, and our priority is tending to the needs of our students and staff,” New Haven Unified School District Superintendent Kari McVeigh said in a statement.
Grief counselors are being made available for students at James Logan High School in Union City, where Ryan had worked since 1994. Ryan taught English and social science and also worked as a part-time administrator who was responsible for the school's master schedule, according to the school district.
Former students remembered Ryan as a passionate, creative and caring educator.
“He was always smiling,” said Jessica Tam, 22, a student in Ryan’s AP English class in 2008. “He was just so intellectual and carried a heavy appreciation for literature.”
Tam recalled one of Ryan’s more unique “lessons.” She said one day, Ryan assigned the class a research paper and told them it was due the next day. The whole class pleaded that it was unfair. At the end of the class, Ryan smiled and told the class that it was a prank to get them to argue for their beliefs because “there was no wrong answer in English,” Tam said.
“We were pretty mad at the time, but it was a good lesson to learn,” she said.
Karlo Tolentino, a student of Ryan’s in 2005, said Ryan went the extra length for his students.
Tolentino said he was falling behind in his senior English class and needed extra credits to graduate. He said Ryan, who usually taught AP classes, gave up his lunch period and set up a small class with a unique curriculum for a handful of students to catch up.
“I don’t know if he was supposed to do that, but that meant a lot to me,” Tolentino, 25, said.
Tolentino said Ryan also functioned as a counselor to his students.
“He let us talk to him privately and he’d hear us out, if it was trouble at home or trouble at school,” he said. “He was definitely a genuine guy.”
Even those who weren’t Ryan’s students have fond memories of the longtime Logan fixture.
“He was always popping in and out of the debate classroom and I would often have conversations with him,” said Farah Habad, who graduated from Logan in 2011. “He was a brilliant man and he had this aura of peace about him. Whatever did happen, I hope there was no malice involved.”
Memorial services for Ryan are pending. An autopsy and investigation are currently being conducted by the San Mateo County coroner's office.
Patch will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
Patch editor Jennifer van der Kleut contributed to this report.
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