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Friends of Slain Rochester Teacher Susan Jarrell: World Lost a 'True Gem'

French language teacher was a Girl Scout leader, soccer mom and school volunteer who lived for her children.

Susan Jarrell was a French teacher with a passion for all things Paris — she once studied abroad and was known to keep the attention of a group of Girl Scouts just by speaking French to them.

She was also a friend with a "heart of gold" who would do anything for anyone, anytime.

More than all of those things, Jarrell was a mom who embraced her children, volunteering for auctions and staff appreciation days at her kids' schools. She was always watching from the sidelines whether the sport be volleyball or soccer or track and field.

"She was the most caring woman; she had the ability to draw people in and make them feel comfortable," said Francie Vachon, a good friend of Jarrell. "She was a true angel."

Jarrell, a teacher at and in Rochester, was found dead Tuesday night in the driveway of her ex-husband's Bloomfield Township home; police say

Susan Jarrell was 45; she had three children between 10 and 14 years old.

'She lived for those kids'

Vachon, who lives in Bloomfield Hills, first met Jarrell 6 1/2 years ago when they volunteered to be co-leaders of their daughters' Brownie troop.

"It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship," Vachon said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Vachon talked about Jarrell and everything she leaves behind. "Her legacy is those kids," Vachon said. "She lived for those kids. She loved to boast about those kids. She was there for them 100 percent."

Caroline, Ellyn and Nick Jarrell were being cared for by Susan Jarrell's parents, who drove up from Toledo, Vachon said. Caroline and Ellyn are students at in Bloomfield Hills. Nick is a student at University of Detroit Jesuit High School.

Vachon spent time with the family Wednesday.

"Kind doesn't even begin to describe the way Susan was," Vachon said. "She was so genuine; she had a heart of gold. That's a rarity today. This is just heartbreaking.

"We lost a true gem."

Dawn Zink, also a close friend of Jarrell, first met her in 2004 when their daughters attended preschool together at in Rochester Hills.

Their daughters are now in school together at St. Hugo. Zink remembered Jarrell as kindhearted and positive.

"She always had a smile on her face," said Zink, who last saw Jarrell right before Christmas. "Even through all she had been through lately, with her divorce, she was always happy, always with a positive attitude.

"She was learning to turn all of that negative around."

School community saddened

Jarrell had been a teacher at Stoney Creek and Hart since September 2010. On Wednesday morning, teachers at both schools read prepared statements to students about Jarrell's death. Counselors and administrators met with her classes and the district's Critical Incidence Teams were made available to support classrooms, individual students, staff members and parents.

"Susan was one of the most positive and dedicated teachers I have ever met," said Larry Goralski, principal at Stoney Creek. "From her bright smile to her love of her students and family, Susan will be greatly missed."

In an email letter to parents Wednesday afternoon, Superintendent Fred Clarke said Jarrell was "highly regarded by both her students and her colleagues."

"The Rochester Community Schools community is deeply saddened at this time," he stated in the email. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jarrell family."

Jarrell was planning a trip with students to France this summer, according to The Source, the Stoney Creek newspaper.

In a short article in the 2010-11 Stoney Creek yearbook, Jarrell was interviewed about being a new teacher. "I love teaching here and the thing that really drives me is the quality of my students, they are just great," Jarrell said.

Students: 'You touched my life'

Many of those students took to Twitter to express their grief on Wednesday:

@gbrace5 (Grant Bracey): Rest in peace Madame Jarrell. You will be missed.

@AUDDKHOURY (Audrey Khoury): Rest In Peace to the best French teacher out there... Madame Jarrell you will be missed<3 Thank you for everything you taught me. I love you

@eliiisefournier (Elise Fournier): Madame Jarrell, the kindest, smartest, most beautiful person and tres manifique French teacher <3 #ripmmejarrell

@kyles_4_miles (Kylie Brandon): RIP Madame Jarrell. We love you all so much and you will be missed greatly. My thoughts and prayers go towards your children. <3

@tanner_clarke (Tanner Clarke): RIP Mrs. Jarrell, you were the best French teacher I could've asked for and you touched my life in so many ways. Gonna miss you so much

@savannahhosford (Savannah Hosford): RIP Mrs. Jarrell . I love you , and you were one of the best teachers .

@AlissaIvezaj (Alissa Ivezaj): This doesnt seem real to me. I keep thinking that I'm going to walk in to class tomorrow and see Madame Jarrell standing there.

Funeral planned for Monday

According to family members, Susan Pawlecki Jarrell was born Oct. 12, 1966. She grew up in Toledo, where she attended Christ the King School and Notre Dame Academy. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1989 and later received her master's degree in education from Vanderbilt University.

In addition to her children, she is survived by her parents, Dennis and Linda Pawlecki, and her brother, Michael Pawlecki (Elizabeth).

Funeral arrangements were being handled through A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home in Troy.

A wake is scheduled for 2-8 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home with a scripture service at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Hugo of the Hills Church, 2215 Opdyke Rd., Bloomfield Hills. Visitation at the church begins at 10 a.m.

Memorial tributes will be directed to a fund for the Jarrell children; details will be available Thursday.

Gabe Johnson January 11, 2012 at 11:24 PM
I feel like im in a dream. I wake up get dressed for school, and then go to french. But for the rest of my life, somthing will be missing. R.I.P
Anirudh Sharma January 12, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Best French Teacher ever, RIP Mme. Jarrell this is so unreal see you tommorow Gabe
Melanie DeCook January 12, 2012 at 12:55 AM
No teacher can ever compare to Mme. Jarrell, she was the sweetest teacher I've ever had. I cannot believe she wont be at school tomorrow:( RIP Mme. Jarrell, I will miss you very much, and i hope you know that you were loved by many students.
Brooklynn January 12, 2012 at 12:59 AM
There is so much emotion flooding my mind right now, I'm not quiet sure where to start. One thing I know for sure is that she will not die in vain. We won't let her. She has not only taught us french, she taught us to live life with a positive attitude, and to always look at the bright side. I can't recall one day with her in coming into class without a smile on her face. She was real. She loved every single one of us and you could see it. If you asked all of us in her class, not one would disagree with that. We are extremely lucky to get the opportunity to met and become close with this wonderful woman. I now see how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away, even from those who do not deserve it. Thank you for your love, time, support and everything you've done Mme. Jarrell... Nous serons toujours que vous manquez. Nous vous aimera toujours. Nous n'obtiendrons jamais vous oubliez. <3
Amanda Kirksey January 12, 2012 at 01:39 AM
You kids are wonderful and that is exactly why teachers teach. I am sure that Madame Jarrell is so proud of all of you...I'm sorry for all of your loss. I am sure she was extraordinary.
Mila January 12, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Mme. Jarrell was a wonderful person. I am very lucky that I knew her. She always was smiling, laughing, and making jokes. She was always so positive. She was a teacher, friend, and mother to all of her students. Thanks to her, I love the French language and will continue learning it forever, just for her. Thankyou for a wonderful experience Mme. Jarrell. Love, Mila "Alice"
Ja January 12, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Mrs. Jarrell as i knew her, was my neighbor. She was in my life for 6 years and she was a wonderful woman always had a positive attitude and a smile on her face she will be greatly missed by her friends and family. RIP Susan Jarrell
Shardy January 12, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I went to High School with Susan and it is so nice to hear how much her students cared for her. Such a tragic, senseless and cowardly act was committed. Rest in peace Susan. May God watch over her children.
Thomas January 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
We often talk about what a wonderful person someone "was" after they are gone. With Susan, we said this from the day that we met her. It's very difficult to undertand how this could happen to such a beautiful soul. I will never understand how a man could do this to his children. Those children have been through a lot in the past couple of years, and we cannot imagine what they must be feeling, and how this will affect their lives. We must ALL step up for them!
Jim Pafford January 12, 2012 at 02:21 PM
As a parent of one of Mme Jarrell's students one of the things that struck me was her obvious love of teaching, her love for all things French and most importantly her love for the students. It is true, she always seemed to have a smile and kind word for everyone. I am grateful that our daughter had the opportunity to experience Mme Jarrell's love and enthusiasm. Stoney Creek High School and the education world has lost a talented and wonderful lady.
Emily January 12, 2012 at 06:33 PM
I am going to miss Susan Jarrell so much. She was my aunt and my godmother. I can't express in words what a amazing person she was. She was the model of what all people should strive to be. She was always happy no matter what bad things were going on in her life. On the worst day of your life, she could make you feel great just by smiling and giving you a hug. She never thaught of herself before she knew that everyone around her was happy. She worked so hard to make life happy and fun for her kids. She was the last person in the world that deserved to die like this. I can't believe that she is gone. I am inspired by the way that she chose to life her life, full of peace and love. And I am inspired for the love she showed for everyone she has ever met. I will cherish all my memories of her for the rest of my life. I pray for my cousins and that they will find happiness without her in their lives. I pray that my whole family will find a way to be happy without her. I miss her so much. Every good thing that God has givin us reminds me of her. She was the greatest godmother that anyone could ask for. I love you so much Aunt Susan, rest in peace.
kb January 12, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Thank you for taking the time to research and write this article on Sue that captured a small part of who she was, and how much she meant to so many people. In this tragedy, it is wonderful to see how many lives she touched and how many people in her community are there for her children in this difficult time. Thanks to all who will keep her memory alive.
Kristen McGee Campbell January 13, 2012 at 02:32 AM
So did I. It is just beyond belief that this terrible thing has happened to Sue. She was a nice girl with a friendly smile. It is startling that this is the 2nd alumni from NDA class of '85 that I have read has passed about tonight. Unreal and so unfair. Rest in peace Sue and God bless her family
Francisca Roth January 13, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Amanda I just heard about this from a girl I tutor in Spanish who goes to the same school where Mme Jarrell taught. Did you know her? How very sad and what a tragedy for her family and her students.
Peace January 14, 2012 at 04:03 PM
After having done divorce recovery work for years, I have repeatedly seen the kind of anger and depression that can lead to these unthinkable acts. When someone thinks they are losing everything they can go almost temporarily insane and do something that ends in this kind of tragedy. Fortunately, we can help redirect this kind of anger...helping them know that this pain is only a temporary condition. After awhile things have a way of working out....the courts get out of the picture and eventually families work out a balance. It takes patience and faith that things can and will improve. I myself, went through a scenario like this....and worked through it...so it does give me credibility. If anyone is out there reading this and thinking dark thoughts about their situation; I encourage them to look into the Divorce Recovery programs that are out there at local churches. I am aware of two in the area; one at Kensington Church and Woodside Church in Troy. My heart breaks for the children, as well as the extended family that now have to live forever with this. There is a saying we use...."when you kill your self, or your children's parent, you forever kill a part of them", no amount of revenge is worth that!
Any Kief August 12, 2012 at 06:42 AM
I (regretfully) represented Ken Jarrell during the pendency of his divorce from Susan. After he would not follow my legal advice, I asked the Judge to let me withdraw from the case, and she did. I only discovered today what happened. I am horribly distraught at what happened, and I think Ken was a total coward to leave his children with no parents. Godspeed to them should they have a willing relative to raise them, @Peace - a little too late for that,
Shaina September 06, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Susan was my French teacher at Kings High School in Cincinnati, Ohio in the '90s... Some of our class went to France with her and her boyfriend over the summer. She was so, so, gentle, kind, caring, loving, and precious. I was going through such a difficult time throughout high school, and she was a comforting influence. I didn't know she had 3 kids. I am utterly shocked and saddened. What a tragedy that the world lost her too soon. I'm so very sorry to everyone close to these two.

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