March 8, 2017 11:18 pm
Updated: March 9, 2017 11:57 pm

Longtime Toronto school teacher killed in Costa Rica

WATCH ABOVE: Students mourn Toronto High school teacher killed in Costa Rica. Marianne Dimain reports.

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TORONTO – A longtime Toronto teacher has been fatally stabbed in Costa Rica in what local media say may have been a mugging.

The Toronto District School Board confirmed that Bruce McCallum, a math teacher on sabbatical from his job at Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, died in the Central American country.

In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, the school’s principal says McCallum, who worked at the school for 18 years, died on the weekend “after a senseless act of violence abroad.”

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A Global Affairs Canada spokesman issued a statement to Global News Wednesday evening on the death of a Canadian in Costa Rica, but he didn’t reference McCallum by name.

“Our thoughts are with the loved ones of a Canadian citizen who passed away in Costa Rica,” the statement read.

“Canadian consular officials in Costa Rica are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and are providing assistance to the family as well. To protect the privacy of the individual concerned, further details on this case cannot be released.”

Media reports in Costa Rica say McCallum was fatally stabbed in the town of Puerto Viejo early Sunday morning.

Police told local media that the man had apparently been out at the beach early in the morning to take photos of the sunrise.

The reports said local residents found the 58-year-old’s body on the street with a stab wound on the right side of his abdomen.

TDSB spokeswoman Shari Schwartz-Maltz says McCallum was known as a talented math teacher who had a knack for teaching students who struggled with the subject.

Students and staff at Albert Campbell Collegiate held a memorial Mccallum Thursday morning.

Students gathered around a table displaying a photo of the popular teacher as well as a book of condolences.

“I was in shock,” said student Jeremy Tsang. “I am trying to get over the fact that he has actually passed away.”

Principal Carol Richards-Sauer says McCallum had a passion for photography and travel.

“His energy and work ethic were an inspiration to us all,” Richards-Sauer says in her letter to parents.

Richards-Sauer says school board staff are offering support and counselling to students and “will remain for as long as they are needed.”

Teacher Diliana Pazin worked with Mccallum for 18 years and is still coming to terms with his sudden death.

“For Bruce to not be here next year is hard,” Pazin said as she signed the book of condolence. “We were all looking forward to hearing about his adventures and experiences and he would have had awesome stories to share with us.”

Mccallum had been looking forward to his year of travel for the past four years. His excitement was something he often expressed colleagues.

“June he was so excited to be going,” said teacher Mary Mackenzie. “It was a complete shock to hear something had happened.”

“It will be a great loss,” said teacher Caroline Crabtree. “There will be a huge hole.”

With files from Nick Westoll and Marianne Dimain

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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