Adventurous Solana Beach teacher who died rock climbing mourned by students – NBC 7 San Diego

A Solana Beach teacher who died in a rock climbing fall at Joshua Tree National Park is remembered for his gregarious, adventurous and lively attitude and for being more than an educator to his students, but also a mentor.

“Michael Spitz was an incredible man,” said Rod Gilbert, principal of Santa Fe Christian Schools. “(He) inspired his students and we are going through a lot of grief right now over the loss.”

Spitz died Sunday night from injuries he sustained while climbing the Sentinel Rock formation in Joshua Tree National Park, according to the Riverside County Coroner’s Office. His body was found the following morning.

“Michael Spitz’s passion for the Lord was contagious and came through in every conversation,” the school said in a statement Tuesday. “This, combined with the love of children, has made us a better school.”

Students are still dealing with the tragedy and have been allowed to go home or spend time with pastors to grieve. Gilbert said they will fondly remember her engaging and eclectic teaching methods.

“Besides being a fun loving guy, we just found out yesterday that in one of the classes last week he just jumped up on a desk and started teaching on top of the desk” , did he declare. “And of course it kept everyone entertained.”

When he wasn’t teaching Spanish at the Santa Fe Christian School, Spitz was an adventurer who enjoyed rock climbing, skydiving, hiking, and surfing. He was also a philanthropist who founded Vida Outreach, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting poverty in Mexico.

“He consistently showed the kids that life is full of adventure and he never wastes a minute,” Gilbert said. “This guy never wasted a minute.”

Virginia F. Goins