WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — A longtime Pasco County teacher passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning.
Parents, school staff and students are now morning the loss of Dan Bolt.
Bolt's office door is now covered with condolences written in children's handwriting.
"He was here on Monday and his happy-go-lucky self," said teacher Iris Barcelona.
The 44-year-old teacher worked at Wesley Chapel Elementary since 2003. He most recently worked as a behavioral specialist. Prior to that, he spent nearly 15 years as the school's music teacher.
"He would usually let us play instruments and play songs," said Sage Barcelona, student.
Colleagues say he was dedicated. He would drive more than an hour to school from his home in St. Pete. He organized field trips, school dances, chorus, and the annual Christmas performance. He held fundraisers and even raised more than $100,000 to put technology in classrooms.
"He could make friends with anybody like he was friends with everybody at the school," said student Adam Phillips.
Friends started a page on YouCaring.com to cover a memorial at the school and to help his family.
Bolt leaves behind a husband and two children he recently adopted in January.
"He actually fostered quite a few kids over the years and he found the right family, two boys that were a fit for him," said Barcelona.
Two years ago, Bolt became a Pasco County teacher of the year finalist. He told staff then he believed every child was unique and learns differently.
Bolt said, "During the sixth grade, I remember being given an assignment: to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. I drew a picture myself in a classroom. After high school, it seemed that my dream to become a teacher slipped away, partly because of financial concerns and immature choices. After years of not being happy working in retail and restaurant jobs, I made the decision to go to college and follow my dream of becoming a teacher."
School staff said that decision impacted so many lives.
Click here to learn more about Bolt or if you wish to donate to the YouCaring page.
The official cause of death has not been released to the public at this time.