03/09/2017 08:44 EST | Updated 03/09/2017 08:44 EST

Bruce McCallum, Toronto Math Teacher, Stabbed To Death In Costa Rica

The principal said Bruce McCallum died on the weekend "after a senseless act of violence abroad.''

TORONTO — A longtime Toronto teacher with a passion for photography and travel has been fatally stabbed in Costa Rica in what local media said was an apparent mugging gone wrong.

The Toronto District School Board said Bruce McCallum, a math teacher on sabbatical from his job at Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute, died in the Central American country.

In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, the school's principal, Carol Richards-Sauer, said McCallum died on the weekend "after a senseless act of violence abroad.''

Media reports in Costa Rica said McCallum was stabbed in the coastal town of Puerto Viejo early Sunday morning, when he had apparently been out on the beach to take photos of the sunrise.

Bruce McCallum had been teaching at Toronto's Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute for 18 years. (Photo: Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute)

The reports said local residents found McCallum's body on the street with a stab wound on the right side of his abdomen. His camera and other belongings were missing.

TDSB spokeswoman Shari Schwartz-Maltz said McCallum was known as a talented math teacher who had a knack for helping students struggling with the subject.

Richards-Sauer said McCallum, who had been teaching at the school for 18 years, was a "positive role model in the Campbell community who had a passion for photography and travel.''

"His energy and work ethic were an inspiration to us all,'' she said in her letter to parents.

School to hold memorial

School board staff were offering support and counselling to students and "will remain for as long as they are needed,'' Richards-Sauer said.

In a Facebook post, one of McCallum's former students expressed shock about the news of his death.

"Mr. McCallum was hands down one of my favourite teachers I've ever had, he had an amazing personality and taught well,'' Michelle Zhao wrote.

"I'll never forget the memories he gave me and the lessons he taught. He only wanted to do the one thing he loved over there but it was taken away from him, it's so unfair. RIP Mr. McCallum you will be missed.''

The school plans to hold a memorial for the teacher Thursday morning.