Hardin County students mourn loss of first grade teacher after c - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hardin County students mourn loss of first grade teacher after crash

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local first graders learned about grief Tuesday morning after being told they would never see their teacher again.

Suzanne Dennis died in crash Monday on the way to class. 

"She was just the kindest, most caring and thoughtful person that I've had the privilege of knowing," said Shelee Clark, principal of Lakewood Elementary School where Dennis taught.

With 37 years in the classroom, friends say Dennis used her memories to mentor, from the lessons she taught to the lives she touched. 

Lakewood teacher Sara Ice said Dennis, "loved to talk and tell stories."

"We'd joke about it at faculty meetings," Ice said.

"She'd say, 'Now I remember when Adam didn't like to read, and then we finally found those Fly Guy books,'" Clark recalled. "She remembered exactly what book it was that got my son to read ... She can remember that detail about every kid, and that's just amazing to me."

But Monday's lesson was her last, and it was one in loss, a tough one for the six-and seven-years-old from her class to understand.

Ice knows this firsthand. She's not just a teacher at the school. Her daughter is in Dennis class. 

"I know my daughter struggled as the day went on, and it kind of started sinking in that she wasn't going to see Ms. Dennis again," Ice said.

The first grade teacher crashed on the way to class Monday about a mile away from the school on U.S. 62. She lost control of her car and it hit a tree. Doctors say early signs point to a heart attack. 

Dennis was 64 years old. 

"It's just unbelievable," Ice said. "It is going to be hard to think she's not there. I think a lot of people are in shock."

Shock echoed throughout the community after the wreck, with devastation etched on the front page of the small town paper. Dennis taught at Lakewood Elementary School from the day it opened in 2003 and in Hardin County for nearly 25 years. 

The district brought in grief counselors to help the kids cope. 

"All of our students are writing a message on a canvas that we are going to display and take to the funeral home for the visitation," Clark said. 

Students wrote messages like, "Best teacher ever," "I miss you," and "I wish you were here for one more day."

"She made every kid feel like they were the smartest in the class," Ice said. 

Visitation for Dennis will be held on Wednesday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Brown Funeral Home at 306 College Street in Elizabethtown. The funeral will be held on Thursday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the White Mills Christian Camp Kentucky, in White Mills, Kentucky.

Dennis is survived by her husband of 42 years, two daughters and three grandchildren.

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