Lee County teachers return to school, prepare for students

Lee County teachers return to school, prepare for students
Lee County teachers return to school. (Source: Lee County Schools)

BEAUREGARD, AL (WSFA) - Flags fly at half-staff outside Beauregard Elementary school to honor the 23 people who died in the tornado. Inside, teachers are adjusting to a new normal.

Monday, teachers met with counselors to determine how to best answer students’ questions about what happened.

“I’m just praying for strength and praying for peace.” Kristin Cofield said.

Cofield taught 8-year-old Mykhayla Waldon, one of the victims. She remembers her as a sweet child who was full of life.

“You think about the love she had for you and she wanted to hold your hand all the time.” Cofield said. “A remarkable little girl who had the most dramatic and beautiful facial expressions.”

“She was just a precious little girl that we’ll all miss.” Elizabeth Williams, Mykhayla’s homeroom teacher said. “She had a smile that was just contagious. She wanted attention; she wanted you to hug on her in such a sweet way.”

Mykhayla’s cousin Jonathan Marquez Bowen, 8, was also killed during the storms. The funeral for both children will take place Monday. Teachers are wearing purple in remembrance of Mykhayla.

AJ Hernandez, 6, another one of the children killed was also a student at the school.

"He was just really inquisitive and loved the world around him." Cofield said.

A third child who died, Taylor Thornton, 10, was a student at the school last year. Cofield and Williams both taught Taylor.

“Everything she said she said with love and words of live.” Cofield said.

“This was a little girl who lit up a room when she walked in. She has such a joy about her." "Williams said.

It’s the sweet memories of those children that are comforting both Williams and Cofield. The teachers are also leaning on each other and relying on their faith to carry them through.

“Students who are in your classroom, you are with them eight hours a day; they are like your children, you look after them, you take care of them. But, you know, they are really God’s children. ” Cofield said.

Students will return to class on Tuesday. Some have already reached out to their teachers, expressing their desire to come back to school. The teachers say they’re ready for them.

“The Lord has really given me tremendous strength through this time, and I think he is truly preparing my heart to return to my children.” Williams added.

School officials say extra counselors will be on hand for students.

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