Fifteen-year-old Preston Hardy (at left) was the center of his mother’s world. He and mom Nancy Rosenbaum-Hardy (at right) were found dead in their
Fifteen-year-old Preston Hardy (at left) was the center of his mother's world. He and mom Nancy Rosenbaum-Hardy (at right) were found dead in their Jacobus home of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (Submitted)

The co-owner of TLC Montessori school in Jacobus -- found dead in her home Wednesday morning, along with her teenage son -- was passionate about educating, supporting and protecting children, especially her own, a close family friend said.

Nancy Rosenbaum-Hardy, 44, and 15-year-old Preston Hardy died of carbon-monoxide toxicity inside their Water Street home in Jacobus, according to York County Deputy Coroner Steve Cosey, who has ruled the deaths accidental. No autopsies are planned, he said, and they were pronounced dead at the scene.

A car was left running in the home's attached garage, and gas leaked into the home, according to York Area Regional Police Sgt. Jeff Dunbar.

A woman who sometimes stays with the Hardy family found the bodies about 6:50 a.m., he said.

"(She) came home and discovered two family members had passed away, as well as two family dogs," he said. "She started to get sick (from carbon monoxide) right off the bat."

Hospitalized: The woman was taken to York Hospital for treatment, Dunbar said.

Whitney Metzler-Krosse, a close family friend of the Hardy family and former spokeswoman for TLC Montessori, said the woman is the adult daughter of one of Rosenbaum-Hardy's friends.

"She was treated and released and is with her family," Metzler-Krosse said. "(She is doing) as well as can be expected. Physically, she's fine."

Don Hardy, Preston's father and Rosenbaum-Hardy's husband, was out of town on a work trip and was expected to return home Wednesday night, she said.

Jacobus firefighters had to ventilate the single-family home to make it safe before investigators could go inside, according to Dunbar.

Rosenbaum-Hardy was found in her bedroom with one of the dogs, and Preston was found in his bedroom with the other dog, Dunbar said.

Rosenbaum-Hardy co-owned TLC Montessori with her mother, Jan Rosenbaum of the Philadelphia area, according to Metzler-Krosse. They opened the school in September 2000, the school's website states; Rosenbaum-Hardy also served as program facilitator.

Emergency crews were called to the Hardy home on Water Street in Jacobus after two people were found dead inside of carbon-monoxide poisoning. (John
Emergency crews were called to the Hardy home on Water Street in Jacobus after two people were found dead inside of carbon-monoxide poisoning. (John Pavoncello)

Personal mission: Rosenbaum-Hardy worked with children as an educator for more than 20 years, according to the website, which states, "Her personal mission is to make a difference in the (life) of each child."

"I'd say the school was her life, but Preston was her life," Metzler-Krosse said. "TLC Montessori was a close second. ... She was obviously a fixture in the community."

Grief counselors will be at TLC Montessori school at 7 a.m. Thursday to help staff members comfort students and give them guidance on how to answer children's questions, Metzler-Krosse said.

Dallastown Area School District and Lincoln Intermediate Unit are providing the grief counselors, she said.

'Stunned': "I think everyone is stunned and devastated," Metzler-Krosse said. "It came as quite a shock."

Jan Rosenbaum intends to change the school's name to Nancy's TLC Montessori, according to Metzler-Krosse.

"The same loving care the school had for children under Nancy's tutelage will continue," she said. "Nancy will always be part of the school. ... Early childhood education has been the passion of this family for decades."

Rosenbaum-Hardy was a hands-on administrator at her school, and knew the names of not only all her students, but all their parents.

"She would circulate through every classroom, every day," Metzler-Krosse said, and greet parents at drop-off and pickup times.

Spoke from heart: Every student thought he or she was her favorite because Rosenbaum-Hardy cared for each of them and always made herself available to help.

"She spoke from the heart," and spoke passionately on behalf of the school and its students, Metzler-Krosse said. "You could email or text her with any problem you were having at any time of the day. ... She was a brilliant woman. The number of balls she kept in the air (was amazing)."

But the child for whom Rosenbaum-Hardy most fiercely advocated was her own son.

Preston Hardy was autistic, his mother told a group of state legislators on March 5, 2013, when she testified before the House of Representatives' Children and Youth Services committee regarding pending legislation to enhance child protection in Pennsylvania.

Spoke to lawmakers: "I opened TLC Montessori in September of 2000 with my mother to make a difference in the lives of each and every child socially, emotionally, and academically," Rosenbaum-Hardy testified. "I have worked with children without incident for over 24 years. I want the best for all children, especially my children."

Her testimony was instrumental in convincing legislators to change some state child-abuse laws, according to Metzler-Krosse.

Preston frequently visited TLC Montessori and interacted with the students there, according to Metzler-Krosse.

"He was an exceptional young man. ... Very attached to his mom," she said. "He was a great kid."

Like most teens, he enjoyed playing video games. And just like his mother, Preston adored their family dogs, Metzler-Krosse said.

The school: TLC Montessori currently has about 50 students and preschoolers enrolled, ranging from infants to third-graders, she said. During the school year, between 150 and 200 students are enrolled there, she said.

The school will remain open, and parents of students have been contacted, Metzler-Krosse said.

"All the parents will receive a letter notifying them of Nancy's passing," she said.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.