A passionate young educator who died suddenly, leaving behind two small children, has left a lasting impact on the region's students and everyone she met.
Emmanuel College teacher Michelle Joseph, 41, died at home on Sunday night and has been described as dedicated, passionate, committed and loving.
Ms Joseph and husband George had welcomed baby Xavier just four months ago, a younger sibling to Noah, 2, and she was due to return to work at the college mid-year.
Emmanuel principal Peter Morgan said the college community had been shaken by the news of Ms Joseph's death.
"She was just 41 years of age and the mother of two young boys, the youngest, four months old," Mr Morgan said. "After we received the sad news we informed our staff and then our senior school students who Michelle regularly taught."
Mr Morgan said Ms Joseph was due to begin a new role as VCE co-ordinator when she returned from family leave at the start of semester two - "a role she was looking forward to with her trademark enthusiasm".
The revered educator first joined the school in 2004 as a replacement teacher and filled various roles before becoming a full-time staff member.
Ms Joseph taught Japanese across all year levels and co-ordinated the college's languages team for several years. She was also a home group teacher.
"Michelle treated every student as though they were the most important person in her class. Her teaching had a lasting impact on her students," Mr Morgan said.
"Michelle championed the teaching of languages, both Japanese and French, at Emmanuel College and was the driving force behind the growth in languages study and the opportunities to experience language and culture through overseas exchange and travel made available to Emmanuel students."
Mr Morgan said Ms Joseph went above and beyond what a teacher was required to do, locating host families for visiting exchange students and language assistants and sourced opportunities for students to study overseas in Tokyo and Warrnambool's Sister City Miura, where she had spent time studying.
Ms Joseph was in contact with the Mayor of Miura and represented and advocated for students sourcing sponsorship and scholarships enabling them to participate in school trips to Japan and France.
He said she was a passionate advocate for languages education and supported any school, primary or secondary, or organisation to develop their languages programs.
"She was a leading figure in the growth of languages teaching in the Ballarat Diocese schools and was a member of the Warrnambool City Council Community and International Relations Advisory Committee."
Mr Morgan said Ms Joseph's energy and passion for learning was reflected in her own further studies, recently completing a Masters in Learning and Assessment from Melbourne University and regularly receiving high distinctions.
The busy mum was also a regular runner and a Warrnambool Athletics Club member.
"Michelle was a dedicated, passionate, committed, and loving Emmanuel College teacher," Mr Morgan said. "Her presence will be sadly missed by her friends, peers, and colleagues."
Ms Joseph will be farewelled on Tuesday at a public service at the Emmanuel Centre at 2pm.
He said the college would assist Ms Joseph's family in any way it could. "We anticipate the college will, in time, conduct its own memorial service to remember Michelle, to express our love for her as well as our extraordinary sense of loss."
Mr Morgan said Ms Joseph's family had been overwhelmed by the community's generosity and show of sympathy. An account is being established in the coming days to help support the family. More details about the account information will be published once it's confirmed.
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