Community mourns the loss of beloved Henry County School District teacher

Staff, parents, and community members are mourning the loss of LuAnn Burns, a teacher at Stockbridge Elementary School.

Burns, who was most recently a Kindergarten teacher, had been with Stockbridge Elementary School for 20 years.

According to her family, Burns passed away on December 27, just 12 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Russell Burns, her husband, said her true love was teaching and her students. He said she continued to teach remotely for the rest of the week, even after her coronavirus diagnosis.

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"Any kid she ever taught, any student. They knew without a doubt that Mrs. Burns loved them," said Emily Miller, a former paraprofessional with the school. 

Miller got the chance to see firsthand just how much love and care Burns poured into her students. 

"She just showed it in everything that she did," Miller said. 

During her 20 years at the school, Burns was not only a teacher to her students, she treated them like family. She treated coworkers with kindness and warmth as well.


Miller said it was an invaluable lesson she took away from her time with Burns. It's one she's now applying to her teaching career. 

"It was all about building those positive relationships with not only her students but with their families," Miller said. 

That can be seen in the relationship Burns had with former student Savanna, and her mother Rachel Smith.

"I had her personal phone number," Smith said. "She's like 'Anytime, anything give me a call. If you need help.' She'd work on Saturdays, on Sundays. It didn't matter. She got through to those kids. It didn't matter what it took." 

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Smith said Burns' dedication to help extended beyond things related to school.

"I have five kids. We were not able to do birthday parties over the summer. She, out of her own pocket, bought each one of my kids' birthday presents," Smith said. 

Those who knew her say her sudden death leaves a tremendous void, but they have no shortage of reminders of the impact she made on those around her. 

"It was such a tragic thing that happened to a wonderful soul," Smith said 

On Monday, a group of teachers, staff, and community members gathered outside of Stockbridge Elementary School to honor Burns but also take a stand against in-person learning.

Some say Burns' death is one that could have been prevented and say her death only highlights the dangers of going back to the classroom. 

"I'm scared for my students. I'm scared for their families. I'm scared for my own family," said Molly Hammer, an educator. 

The Henry County School District Superintendent sent a letter to the community Sunday night stating they will be beefing up efforts to prevent the spread of COVID 19.

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