Ellen Rae Greenberg seemed to have everything going for her - a teaching career she cared deeply about, a close family, and a summer wedding to plan.

But on Wednesday, Greenberg, 27, was found fatally stabbed inside the Manayunk apartment she shared with her fiancé - a "devastating" blow to those who loved her, as well as the school community she helped build.

Greenberg taught first grade at Juniata Park Academy, part of the Philadelphia School District. Pat Mazzuca, former principal of Juniata Park, chose Greenberg to help start the school four years ago.

"She was very dedicated to the kids," Mazzuca said, "very organized . . . very, very much concerned about her students who were not achieving."

Greenberg's loss is devastating, Mazzuca said.

Police said Friday that they were still investigating the circumstances surrounding Greenberg's death, and that they had not determined whether she died as a result of suicide or homicide.

Greenberg's fiancé found her in their apartment at the Venice Loft Condominiums at 4601 Flat Rock Rd., near Main Street, about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Initially, the wounds on her chest were believed to be self-inflicted.

On Thursday, the Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a homicide. Detectives have since gathered evidence that the Medical Examiner's Office did not have when it made the ruling, said Philadelphia Police Lt. Ray Evers, and the office is reviewing the case.

As of Friday, Greenberg's death remained under investigation. The investigators "are taking a close look at the scene, at those close to her, at everything," Evers said. "They're trying to piece it together."

As a teacher, Greenberg was seen as a star, with a classroom presence rarely seen in someone so young. She was, one colleague said, "an amazing teacher."

Greenberg was generous with her attention to students, as was her family. Greenberg's parents traveled from Harrisburg multiple times each school year to speak to their daughter's first graders.

"Her dedication to the school was complete and unconditional," district spokesman Fernando Gallard said in a statement. "She will be dearly missed by all of us, especially her colleagues, students, and the families at Juniata Park Academy."

Funeral services were held Friday in the Beth El Temple sanctuary in Harrisburg. Shiva will be sat at 2400 Via Toscana, Harrisburg, Sunday through Tuesday from 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m.

Contact staff writer Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com
Inquirer staff writer Susan Snyder contributed to this article.