Teacher murdered in Woodbridge remembered as ‘passionate educator’

The murder of a Toronto teacher is hitting North York County close to home. James Pasternak, who welcomed the educator and her class to City Hall last month.

“We had a wonderful visit,” the York Centre-Downsview representative told CP24.com Thursday afternoon.

“Yesterday I was shocked when I found out… This is horrible news, especially since we saw it a month ago.”

Early Wednesday morning, York Regional Police were called to a home in Woodbridge for reports of unknown problems. There, officers located a woman with serious injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim has since been identified as 64-year-old Estella Wheeler of Vaughan.

The woman’s husband, Trevor Wheeler, 68, also of Vaughan, has been charged with second-degree murder.

The Toronto District School Board has confirmed that Wheeler was a seventh and eighth grade teacher at North York Africentric Alternative School. He had worked for the board for just over seven years, it said in a letter sent to his parents and guardians.

In the note, Principal Hugh Reynolds described Wheeler as a “loved” educator and a “well-known, dedicated team member,” someone who “cared about all of her students.”

The Africentric Alternative School, located at 1430 Sheppard Avenue West, has a special place in Pasternak’s heart, as he was one of the trustees who worked to open it more than a decade ago.

Estella Wheeler, left, and her seventh and eighth grade students from North York Africentric Alternative School visited Toronto City Hall in February. (Photo by James Pasternak)

Hearing that one of the teachers has been murdered is especially devastating, he told CP24.com during an interview Thursday afternoon.

“How do we explain this loss to the children there?” he said.

“It’s terrible because it’s a very close-knit community. For a staff member to be murdered there is terrible.”

Pasternak took to social media Thursday morning to share his thoughts on Wheeler’s murder.

“I am saddened by the tragic news that Estella Wheeler, a well-known Africentric Alternative School teacher, has succumbed to injuries allegedly caused by intimate partner violence,” he wrote.

“She was a passionate educator who was admired by students, parents and fellow staff. I offer my deepest condolences to her family.”

The North York councilor told CP24.com he plans to table a motion of condolence for Wheeler at the next Toronto City Council meeting on March 20.

Pasternak said he is also willing to help facilitate the naming of a nearby garden or street in the area in Wheeler’s honor, if the community so desires.

Parents of Africentric Alternative School students were grieving this morning as they dropped their children off at class.

One parent who spoke with CP24 said Wheeler was a dedicated teacher who devoted much of her time to after-school programs. The mother said she is grateful to Wheeler for the weekly counseling sessions she gave her daughter.

Several people also posted messages of condolence for Wheeler on social media.

Among other things, Wheeler, who was a mother and grandmother, was remembered as a “wonderful person” and a “woman of God.”

One former student said Wheeler was her “favorite teacher.”

“(She) was the sweetest and kindest person to me…and taught me a lot,” they wrote.

York University confirmed to CP24.com that Wheeler was an alumnus who graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts. The university is not commenting further at this time.

The City of Vaughan also offers its condolences on Wheeler’s death.

“On behalf of Mayor Steven Del Duca and members of the council, we join our community in mourning the passing of beloved teacher and Vaughan resident Estella Wheeler. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and colleagues during this time so difficult,” he said. the spokesperson said in a written statement provided to CP24.com.

“Any questions regarding the investigation should be directed to York Regional Police.”

York Regional Police said they do not have any updates on the case at this time.

Leave a Comment