OAKLEY -- For the 25 years that Chris Spring worked in various roles at the Oakley Union Elementary School District she brought inspiration and smiles to her students and co-workers alike. When her colleagues heard the sad news that Spring, 48, passed away from a sudden illness Monday, they knew that there would be a big void.
"Chris was a huge part of the Oakley school district and touched many children and families along the way," said Lindsay Bertolucci, EDLC lead instructor at Gehringer Elementary School, where Spring had worked as a kindergarten teacher.
Bertolucci said that when she was at Delta Vista Middle School as a child, Spring was the assistant principal.
"My classroom overlooked hers and I would always hear her talking to her students with such kindness and leadership just as she did when I was in school. Her presence will forever be missed, but I know her memory will live on through the kids and families she touched within our community."
Spring married her partner of seven years, John LaBarre, just four-and-a-half months ago. The couple lived in Antioch.
LaBarre said that Spring became ill just a few weeks ago with a bacterial infection that infected her heart. She died from complications of a stroke caused by the infection.
Spring was born in Chico and raised in Sacramento. She attended Saint Mary's College where she received a master's degree in liberal arts and then worked on her teaching credential.
Spring started her career with the district at Gehringer Elementary School teaching first grade. She also taught second and third grade at the school. When Laurel School opened, Spring was asked to be part of the new staff. There she taught second and fourth grades. After teaching at Laurel for seven years, Spring was promoted to assistant principal and spent nine years at Delta Vista Middle School before coming back to Gehringer School three years ago to teach kindergarten.
"Watching Chris shift from dealing with middle school discipline as an assistant principal to teaching kindergarten was a testament to her flexibility, good humor and talent as an educator," said Gehringer School school psychologist Robyn Byrd.
"It took a little bit for her to make the transition between middle school and kindergartners, but once she got it dialed in, she was glad she got to enjoy a few more years making the kids happy," her husband said.
Many of those who worked with her remembered her good nature, happy smiles and laughter.
"Chris was a caring teacher who was always willing to do whatever it took to connect with her students," Gehringer Principal Maria Bordanaro said. "She loved her students and did anything she could to support them in their learning. She has had a positive impact in so many lives."
Services for Spring will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Holy Rosary Church in Antioch with a celebration of life following the ceremony in the recreation center at the church.
LaBarre asks that instead of flowers people give a donation to American Cancer Society through the Antioch Relay for Life Chapter in Spring's name. To make a donation, go to www.relayforlife.org/antiochca www.relayforlife.org/antiochca&gt; and press the donate button.
"We both walked regularly for Relay for Life and Chris would really love that," he said.