Matt Closson Ram Sport Entertainment Photos

AUBURN — A popular Edward Little High School teacher has died, it was announced on Friday, leaving the school community in a state of shock and grief. 

Matt Closson, a special education teacher who coached hockey, tennis and soccer, died with his family at his side, according to school Principal Scott Annear, in a letter issued Friday afternoon. 

“It is with a heavy heart that I write to you to share that our beloved teacher Matt Closson has passed away,” Annear wrote. “This was very sudden and has many of us trying to understand why.” 

Closson was a 2000 graduate of the school and was described as a teacher who was utterly dedicated to his students and co-workers. In addition to his role as teacher, Closson was also a notable musician who played guitar and sang with the band Farmhouse Project.

“He was the heart and soul of the organization,” said Tony Morin, who played in the band for seven years with Closson. “His love of life and music was obvious and infectious. At the end of gigs he would often loudly and joyfully proclaim that he had played a lot of notes for the people. He loved whipping the crowd into a frenzy with one of his signature lead solos. Closson was one of a kind and will be missed by a great many.”

Matt Closson Ram Sport Entertainment Photos

In school circles, Closson was known as a man who inspired all who knew him, including the kids he taught and coached. In many cases, Closson was credited with helping his students to regain their focus in situations where they otherwise might have lost interest.

“My oldest son probably would not have continued to play soccer if not for Matt’s mentorship,” Scott Thistle of Auburn said. “I’ve heard dozens of stories of how he single-handedly did things like that for kids. He loved kids — helping kids, helping them become good adults. He helped many Red Eddies make it to graduation. He did it kid by kid — and quietly — not because he wanted any prize but because he loved those kids and loved seeing them become successful.”

“He was just one of those kinds of people,” Thistle said, “quality and kindness oozed from him but not in a sappy way, ever. You just knew. It’s a terrible loss for the E.L. community.”

The announcement set off a fury of grief and shock on social media, particularly on the Auburn School Department Facebook page where dozens wrote in with sympathies for Closson’s family as well as personal memories of their own. 

“You were an amazing person inside and out,” wrote Tasha Vintinner of Auburn. “My heart aches for your family. You will be missed not only by your family but your school family as well.” 

It was generally agreed that Closson was loved and admired, not only by co-workers, but by the kids he taught, coached and mentored. 

“He made quite an impression on a lot of kids,” wrote Pamela Day of Auburn. “I know I have a very sad boy today.” 

Mike McDonough of Ram Sport photography knew Closson both from his work on the school athletic fields and on the stage. McDonough said he got to know Closson while the two stood talking while watching Edward Little hockey games.

“He was a tremendous person, always smiling,” McDonough said. “We will miss him for sure.”

Closson was in his late 30s. Annear, in his letter to the school community, echoed comments from the community, describing Closson as a gifted, calm and selfless teacher. 

“Matt will undoubtedly be remembered by his students, athletes and colleagues for his positive and calm demeanor,” Annear wrote. “He will forever be remembered for his calmness amidst a storm, his love for others, his willingness to sacrifice his time for others, his cheerfulness, his sly grin, his terrific T-shirts and his love for his community. Matt was a gifted musician who loved his time with his extended band family. Matt was happiest when he was involved in the many things he loved.” 

Annear also urged friends and loved ones to support one another, even in a difficult time of social distancing. 

“While we currently cannot be together,” he wrote, “I encourage you to reach out to us. We are here to support our students, our players and our staff as we go through this grieving process.” 

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