LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Some of us might know her through the protests, chants and billboards but to her former teachers and mentors, Breonna Taylor was a school leader who was always willing to lend a helping hand.
As the country echoes 'Say Her Name' it was important for some JCPS educators to reflect and share their most vivid memories of the 26-year-old at her former school, Western High School, Tuesday. For them Taylor was more than just a hashtag.
"Just to hear her name I can't help but literally hear her laughter," former assistant principal at Western High School Nureka Dixon said. "Back in my younger days I wore high heels everyday and a different pair of heels to match my outfit so [Taylor] would always come up to me and say ‘what kind of shoes do you have on today? You always got on the cutest shoes!' We would have a whole conversation just about my shoes."
Taylor's former math teacher Leah White said the 26-year-old would always look out for others.
"I remember brilliant minds – she was brilliant and fast," White said. "A lot of times in class we would start a lesson and kids would be confused or they wouldn't understand, I'd be like 'ugh what am I going to do?' Bre would be like 'I got it Ms. White, I'll work with them.'"
The educators describe Taylor as a natural born leader in and outside the classroom.
"Breonna would many times find someone crying in the bathroom and bring them to me and assure them that I was going to help them," youth service center coordinator at Western High School Stephanie Holton said. "Or she would come in and grab something for a student that needed it."
Taylor's former social studies teacher Jennifer Fuchs said if she had a question for the class, Taylor was someone to count on. 'She was going to be confident enough to put herself out there.'
"Breonna is what I like to call the double threat," Fuchs said. "She had the social skills, she had a good time, she had a good friend group but she also had the academic skills."
Her former teachers say Taylor took her education seriously and was always focused on her grades while finding ways to get involved in her school.
"I choose to remember your love and smile and not let naysayers tarnish your name," White said when reading from a personal letter she wrote to Taylor. She wrote the letter two days after the grand jury's decision in the deadly police shooting investigation.
"She loved helping people and that's not always what you're hearing and that's where the frustration, anger and emotion come in because you're like 'I knew her,'" White said. "The world needs to know that she was a beautiful person."
The JCPS educators want to change the narrative.
"She's not just a name on a hashtag, she's not just a picture on a billboard or magazine, or something that is for a moment relevant to pop culture or to people," Dixon said. "She was a real person that touched each of our lives very deeply."