WINSTON-SALEM -

A Winston-Salem man's body has been found near the middle school where he had worked as its athletic director.

The body of Paul Aaron Wilkins was found Thursday morning in a wooded area on private property near Flat Rock Middle School, according to Forsyth County Sheriff's Maj. Beth Pritchard.

Wilkins had been in the area preparing a tree stand to use for hunting later in the year, according to sheriff's deputies. No other information was provided about Wilkins' death. Authorities said their investigation is ongoing, and Pritchard said that an autopsy would be performed to determine how Wilkins died.

Wilkins had been athletic director and physical education teacher at Flat Rock since 2009, according to officials. He previously worked at Walkertown Middle School and Hanes Middle School.

Flat Rock Middle School Principal Laura Hodges said the school's staff and teachers were grieving over the loss of Wilkins, whom she described as beloved.

"We are in shock. It's a tragedy and a big loss," Hodges said. "He will be missed. He was truly a wonderful person."