New memorial honors Alabama educators lost to COVID-19

The names of 55 educators who died from COVID-19 were read.
The names of 55 educators who died from COVID-19 were read.(Source: WSFA)
Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The state has surpassed 15,000 COVID-19 deaths, and some of those lost include educators, which is why the Alabama Association of School Boards held a memorial dedication on Sunday.

“Many of those lost were dedicated teachers, bus drivers, principals, coaches, lunchroom staff and school board members,” AASB President and Baldwin County Board of Education Member Shannon Cauley said.

The names of 55 educators now victims to the virus were read. AASB believes there are other victims, but their cause of death has not been shared.

“Whether we serve on a school board or not, we’ve all experienced loss over this last year and a half,” Cauley said on memories, safety and loved ones.

A permanent memorial space is now outside the AASB building to serve as a tranquil place of reflection.

The memorial includes a bench, oak tree and garden. AASB executive director Sally Smith describes it as a “living memorial.”

“We realize that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, so we wanted to make this a living memorial for two reason, one to keep the memories of life of those educators and staff members who’ve touched our lives, but also as acknowledgement that there’ll be others lost to COVID,” Smith said. “Because we’re not through this yet.”

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey said the memorial will live on for years to come.

“I drive by here almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and it’ll be nice to come by this corner, even months from now – and more than that years from now - and remember what this was about,” Mackey said.

Although dozens of names were read, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said the ceremony was less about numbers and more about lives forever impacted.

“Whether you are a teacher, whether you are a cafeteria worker, a bus driver, or whatever position you may hold, you have an impact on our community through education,” Reed said.

Those who wish to visit the memorial can go to the AASB office, which is located at the corner of South Jackson and Houston Streets in Montgomery.

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