LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – How do you talk to a first grader about the death of their teacher? It's a conversation being had with elementary students in Cecilia, Kentucky which is outside of Elizabethtown.
One of Hardin County School District's most tenured teachers, Suzanne Dennis, died in a car crash on her way to work Monday morning, leaving students and staff heartbroken.
“Some kids immediately started crying or you could tell they were visibly upset and others seemed kind of stunned, like they really didn't know what to do,” Shelee Clark, Principal of Lakewood Elementary explained.
Sara Ice, a Teacher at Lakewood Elementary tells us, “I let my daughter hear it with her class so she found out the news with the rest of her classmates, she knows Mrs. Dennis personally because we attend church with her and we're really close to the family.”
The Hardin County Sheriff's Office says 64-year-old Suzanne Dennis somehow veered off the road and crashed her car Monday morning on U. S. 62, just a few miles from her school.
The Sheriff says she was on her way to work and died at the scene. As the news traveled to Lakewood, staff members had to prepare themselves to tell their students.
“I think at one point I even said...you know the last time you saw Mrs. Dennis face on Friday or at church on Sunday , that's going to be the last time you'll ever be able to see Mrs. Dennis. I just wanted it to really sink in with them that she's gone because young children have a hard time obviously understanding death and that that person is not going to be coming back,” as Clark described.
Ice has a daughter currently in Mrs. Dennis' first grade class.
“She repeatedly mentioned that she wasn't going to see Mrs. Dennis again and I think the extent of that was really starting to hit her the more she had time to think about it,” Ice added.
Mrs. Dennis taught for 37 years, 23 years with Hardin County Schools, grief counselors are still on site.
“It was really hard to take that news and step back into a classroom knowing that students in the classroom cared for her so much as well. She has a daughter that's my age, her husband is a minister so spiritually she was somebody that we looked up too, you couldn't find a better person to be a friend with,” Ice said.
Visitation for Mrs. Dennis is set for Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Brown Funeral Home in Elizabethtown and again Thursday at 10 a.m. at White Mills Christian Camp, Dennis taught Sunday school and played the piano at the nearby White Mills Christian Church.
The funeral will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at that camp, Hardin County School officials tell WHAS 11 that all staff and students will have excused absences to attend these services.
Expressions of sympathy can be made in the form of donations to White Mils Christian Church Building Fung or White Mills Christian Camp Scholarship Fund. Condolences may be expressed online at www.brownfuneral.com
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