Long before popular Seneca Valley math teacher Steven Russo was found dead on Thanksgiving eve in his Lancaster Township home, his students had created a page called "I Love Mr. Russo and His Russo-isms" on Facebook.
The page affectionately listed more than 100 of his notable quotes, including such nuggets as, " 'Um,' is what they make gum from," and " 'Well' is where I get my water from." After his death – which state police have termed a homicide -- activity on the page shot up as former and current students posted their condolences and favorite memories of the veteran high school teacher.
Russo taught math at the high school for more than 20 years.
"He created quite an impression on kids," said district spokeswoman Linda Andreassi.
No arrests have been made in Russo's death on Nov. 23. The case remains under investigation.
According to police, Russo, 48, had been shot in the head. Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger, who is handling the investigation, would not comment on the case Monday.
The school district has not named Russo's successor. Andreassi said a substitute would continue to teach Russo's classes until a candidate is approved by the school board.
"It's not going to happen very quickly," she said.
When students returned to class after Thanksgiving break, the district brought in a counselor to offer support. Andreassi said additional specialists were available if students asked for them.
At the Seneca Valley school board meeting in December, board President Robert Hill called for a moment of silence to remember Russo.
"He was a well-loved teacher in this district taken from us far too soon," he said.
Andreassi said students as well as his fellow teachers continue to grieve.
"As you can imagine, we are all saddened by his sudden and tragic death," she said. "Mr. Russo taught for 20 years in Seneca Valley, excelled at teaching and made quite an impression on those who were fortunate to know him. He is greatly missed by students and staff alike."