CLEVELAND — A beloved teacher in North Royalton died over the holiday break after she caught COVID-19.
Marta Maluzta was a fourth-grade teacher in the district.
"She was passionate about her work, her children," said Diane Brenner. Brenner's son Julian is a fourth-grader and had Malutza as a teacher this year.
He expected to see her back in the classroom after the break.
"It came to us pretty quickly through the grapevine I would say," said parent Jaclyn Jacin. Jacin's daughter was in Malutza's class in 2019-2020.
"She was a one-of-a-kind teacher," Jacin said.
Not only was Malutza a classroom teacher, but she was also a musician. She taught violin and played for her students.
"She did such a phenomenal job," Jacin said as she remembers a moment during the Christmas play Maluzta organized for her students in Dec. 2019.
Malutza's obituary online said the 64-year-old taught in the district for more than 30 years. She also had a master's degree in Performance.
As the new year started, parents in the district worked through tough conversations.
"She just buried her head in me, and she cried," Jacin said about her daughter's reaction. Her son, who is in fourth grade this year, did not have Malutza as a teacher but she said he was worried for his friends who did.
"When I told him, there was a lot of crying obviously," said Brenner. Her son was ready to see Malutza after the break. Brenner said telling her son was difficult, but she wanted to be honest with him.
"He was upset because he didn't get to say goodbye to her," she said. They both went to her funeral on Dec. 31 at Pokorva Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Classes in the district started this week and there were counselors in the school for students. Brenner told News 5 a recently retired teacher is coming back to finish the school year with the fourth-graders so they can stay together as a class.
Both Brenner and Jacin are taking it day by day.
"And as a parent, that's hard to tell your child that someone they loved is gone," Brenner said.
News 5 reached out to the North Royalton district, but they did not respond. But, in a long social media post from elementary school, principal Kirk Pavelich said Malutza was remembered as "undoubtedly one of the finest teachers I've ever known."