Soroco teacher dies at age 27

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— The South Routt community has lost an outstanding young teacher.

Valerie Ambrosetti, an English teacher and athletic coach at Soroco Middle School, died July 6 after a heart attack caused by an epileptic seizure. She was 27. Soroco secondary principal James Chamberlin said the seizure occurred at night, while Ambrosetti was working as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp near Lake George, west of Colorado Springs.

"It's a shock," Chamberlin said. "This is a tragic loss."

Ambrosetti completed her first year of teaching in South Routt last month. In addition to teaching English to students in seventh and eighth grades, Ambrosetti taught an eighth-grade communications class and a seventh-grade math and reading class. She also coached girls basketball and track for the middle school.

Co-workers and friends praised Ambrosetti's creativity, work ethic and willingness to try new things in the small Oak Creek school.

"She was very interested in providing opportunities that the kids didn't have," said Raylene Olinger, a science teacher at the middle school. "Kids approached her about starting a drama club, and she took it on."

Even though fewer than 10 kids participated in the impromptu theater group, Olinger said Ambrosetti got the kids to rehearse a short comedy skit, then perform it in front of the entire school.

"It was hilarious," Olinger said of the skit. "(Ambrosetti) had a great smile and such a willingness to jump into new situations."

Ambrosetti also inspired her students to create a school newspaper, complete with editors, reporters and deadlines. She took two classes on field trips to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

New situations were old hat to Ambrosetti, who traveled quite a bit. Before coming to South Routt, she taught at middle schools in Port Falls, Idaho; Hugo, Colo.; Trieste, Italy; and Spokane, Wash.

Born in 1978 at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia, Ambrosetti graduated from high school in Hayden, Idaho, then received a teaching degree from the University of Idaho at Coeur d'Alene. She earned a master's degree from Regis University in Denver.

"Valerie moved to Stagecoach last July, knowing only the people on the (school district's) interview team," Chamberlin wrote in a letter to Soroco parents, students and staff.

Chamberlin said Ambrosetti's love for the outdoors helped her feel at home in Stagecoach, where she lived in the Wagon Wheel condominium development.

"I would see her many times out on the hiking and biking trails," Chamberlin said, adding that Ambrosetti also was an avid skier and camper.

"She really liked how beautiful it is here," Olinger said.

Ambrosetti's parents, An----thony and Vickie Ambrosetti of Port Falls, Idaho, did not wish to be contacted. Services for Ambrosetti are being held in Port Falls. An informal gathering to remember Ambrosetti will be held Tuesday at the middle school, where a tree will be planted in her name.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ambrosetti family," Chamberlin said. "Valerie will be sadly missed."

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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