Laura Jones Tavel, a beloved and inspiring seventh grade social studies teacher at River Trail Middle School in Johns Creek, has died. She was 53.
Tavel, of Duluth, died after her Honda CR-V crashed into a Gwinnett County retention pond on July 30.
“She thoroughly enjoyed teaching and she loved her students and was very happy in teaching, but extremely professional,” said her father, Ed Jones, of Cumming. “The other teachers said she helped them incredibly. They all loved her and admired her.”
Vernon Jones, her mother, added that her generosity was abundant.
“She was generous to us and her brother [Clint] and his family and at the school, they said she would give any amount of time to help the other teachers prepare,” Vernon said. “Not only money, but time and concern. She shared her knowledge.”
Several of her students went on social media to grieve and eulogize their teacher.
“You were one of the best teachers I have ever had,” said Ali Goldring on Twitter. “You pushed me to be the best I could be, I am so lucky to have known you.”
Laura loved her husband, Javier, kayaking and the outdoors. She also cared dearly for her three cats.
Born on October 1, 1960, Laura Tavel grew up in the Dekalb area, graduating from Shamrock High School in Decatur. She went to Roanoke College in Virginia for a year, but after being homesick, she returned to the University of Georgia where she got a degree in art history.
“She was one of those people who would still be going to school if she didn’t have to worry about it,” Vernon said.
After working as a flight attendant, Laura decided her calling was in teaching. She went to Mercer University in Macon to get her degree. That’s when she met Javier. The two fell in love and married.
Javier is a teacher at Hembree Springs Elementary School in Roswell.
The couple’s favorite place to kayak was in Darien, Georgia.
A close friend and former River Trail teacher, Kristy Wilson, said Laura was “an absolute angel placed in my life.”
“She listened to my troubles and confided in me as well,” Wilson said. “She gave so much of herself and helped both me and my family through our most difficult times in ways only families do for one another. She was my sister not because blood made it so, but because we did.”
While visiting the Gulf Coast, Laura would get lost watching the sunset, her family remembered.
“I will forever remember and love Laura with every sunrise and every sunset that I gaze upon,” Wilson said.
Services were held on Aug. 2 at the Haycrest Woodlands. A memorial service will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church, 180 Academy Street.