COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The messages of love were many on a big rock at North Cobb Christian School. Students told us 23-year-old Teacher John Michael Ritchey had a special knack of helping them learn while making them laugh, case in point Mr. Ritchey buying on line supplies apparently for a lesson.
"A banana suit, swords, maps, he could have picked anything, he was just that guy, he was a goof ball but we all loved him so much," said Caroline Johnson, a student at the school.
School leaders told FOX 5 News Ritchey died over the weekend in north Georgia in Fannin County when he fell from a cliff while hiking with his wife. His death hits the school at several levels because Ritchey was a former student who went to North Cobb Christian through 9th grade. He recently graduated from Liberty University in Virginia, returning to teach English and Bible class.
"His consuming passion in life was to impart what he believed about scripture and the bible to his students and to make sure where they knew where they'd spend their eternity," said Todd Clingman, Head of the School.
Students like Jalen Dampier and Shiheem Robinson who said the young teacher made a big impact.
"He was just always greeting others in the hallway even if he didn't know you he was just such a caring and respectful guy," said Shiheem Robinson, a student at the school.
Students say he was a caring and respectful teacher whose funeral will be held Thursday morning at nearby North Star church. School officials said high school students will be bussed to the service of a man who led by example.
"He was a guy that always lived the right way so he never had any questions as to whether he would get into heaven so the fact he died at such a young age he would definitely did what god sent him to do." said Jalen Dampier, a student at the school.