At 89 years old, Louise Gabel was full of energy, eager every day to teach children for free, said her son, Jon Gabel.
“She was an extremely generous person whose greatest joy in life was helping others,” he said.
After retiring as a school teacher, she spent the next 18 years volunteering at Carlin Springs Elementary School in Arlington, Va., where she left a lasting impression on the faculty and students.
“[The students] loved her,” said Carlin Springs Elementary School Principal Corina Coronel. “Everybody loved Mrs. Gabel. She walked up and down the hallways, always had a smile on her face, and she always had something nice to say.”
“We’re not the same without her,” said Carlin Springs Elementary School Coordinator Anne Vorderbruegge. “It’s a different place. We just miss her spirit, her presence.”
Mrs. Gabel’s life ended tragically after she was struck by a school bus at about 7:30 a.m. Monday while walking to school, police said.
“She was on her way to school to teach and the bus that hit her was a bus, a school bus going to Claremont Elementary School where she had taught for 24 years,” said Jon Gabel.
The faculty said Mrs. Gabel was more than just a volunteer: She was essential to the students' learning process. She helped out with any subject that was asked of her, but specialized in math and teaching under-performing first- and second-graders how to read.
“There were many times where students in the fifth grade she remembered helping them in the second grade,” said Carlin Springs Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Juan Otal. “It was just a sense of accomplishment to see, hey, now they are reading on grade level and knowing she made that difference.”
Police have not charged the bus driver involved in the incident and said it’s too early into the investigation to determine how it happened.
“What a better world this would be if everyone were like my mother,” Jon Gabel said.