Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Manatee School Mourns Teacher

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Manatee School Mourns Teacher

Article excerpt

STREP COMPLICATIONS: The 31-year-old taught math at School for the Arts


A Manatee County school is in shock after a 31-year-old math teacher died Thursday following a weeklong battle with a strep infection.

Rebekah Hatmaker, who taught math at Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, died of "complications from a strep infection," according to an email sent to parents Friday from the school's assistant principal. It is unknown if the infection started with strep throat.

Hatmaker had worked at the school since 2005, where she started at the front desk before earning her teaching degree and returning to teach sixth-grade math. Her last day in the classroom was Oct. 3.

Manatee School for the Arts Principal Bill Jones said Hatmaker's strep infection may have spread because of past surgeries.

"Strep is an infection that's very common," Jones said. "Usually a situation where an individual has a past problem or a reduced immune system allows it to get into parts of the body it doesn't usually get into."

Manatee County's branch of the Florida Department of Health said they have investigated a report of bacterial meningitis caused by a strep infection this week. Officials would only confirm that the patient was a Manatee County resident, citing patient privacy laws.

Megan Jourdan, a spokeswoman for Manatee County's branch of the Department of Health, said the public and those the patient came in contact with are not in danger of developing a severe illness.

"It's a very rare outcome to a very common infection," Jourdan said.

Jones said his staff talked with Health Department officials, who said the school did not have anything to be concerned about.

He said the school would have counselors come in to talk to each of Hatmaker's classes and other grief counselors would be available on campus throughout the week to help students who previously learned from Hatmaker. …

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