Plant City grads mourn longtime teacher lost to COVID-19

It’s been more than a decade, but Connie Clippard still hasn’t forgotten about sitting in Mr. Wanner’s class. 

“He literally was my favorite teacher in high school,” Clippard said. 

Michael Wanner taught forensics and earth-space science at Plant City High School. He’d been there since 2004.

Wanner died Tuesday due to what’s being called a COVID-related illness

“I remember one time I was freaking out because I didn’t have cash to get my cap and gown,” Clippard recalled. “And he gave me the money, no question. He was like, ‘Here, take this.’” 

According to the Hillsborough County School District, Wanner contracted the coronavirus off-campus and had been in quarantine.  He’d been battling the deadly virus for weeks. 

Hillsborough schools see COVID cases climb, but student spread appears limited

The Hillsborough County School District recorded a record high number of daily COVID-19 cases earlier this week, as leaders for the school system urged parents to continue following CDC guidelines when students are off campus.

“He was one of those teachers that really stuck with you well after high school was over. He is a driving force in my career in education,” said Landon Chaffee, another former student. 

Chaffee says the loss of Wanner will be felt for a long time. 

“He was really committed to making sure that, even beyond science, that you were ready to face the world head-on,” he said. 

The school district says Wanner is the first teacher known to have died from COVID-19 in Hillsborough County.  Grief counselors were on campus Thursday to help students deal with the loss.