Firefighters, officers sub for teachers attending funeral

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Police officers and firefighters in Greenwood, Arkansas stepped in so staff could attend the funeral of their colleague. (East Hills Middle School/Facebook)

Police officers and firefighters in Greenwood, Arkansas, lent a hand to their school district this week, subbing for classes at the middle school where a teacher suddenly passed away.

"Ms. Nelms was a supporter of the fire and police department. She'd been a supporter of us for many years. Now that the school's in need, we wanted to help the school out. We wanted to make sure all the teachers were available to attend the funeral," Greenwood Fire Chief Stewart Bryan said.

32-year-old Jennifer Nelms was a paraprofessional in the 5th grade classroom at East Hills Middle School.

Nelms was known for her spirit and personality, as seen here when the teacher dressed up for an Ugly Sweater contest.

"She just I think took whatever she was thrown and just spun it positively," literary teacher Karen Benjamin.

Benjamin worked in the same classroom as Nelms.

She says Nelms wasn't feeling well on Friday and left school early.

"So she thought 'I'm gonna go home. I'm gonna sleep, I'm gonna clean my house and I'll see you Monday morning.' So, that's what she said Friday when she left," Nelms said.

But Nelms died Saturday from complications associated with lupus.
Coworkers say she was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease about two years ago. People were wearing purple in her honor.

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Police officers and firefighters in Greenwood, Arkansas, lent a hand to their school district this week.

"This community is just amazing. Officer Dawson was in my room this morning while I was attending the funeral. The kids know him. When he walked in, they greeted him," Benjamin said.

Around 15 Greenwood police officers as well as the police and fire chiefs subbed for classes so teachers like Benjamin could go to Nelms' funeral.

"It's certainly an honor to be in the class that she taught in and she was a great person obviously loved by a lot of people and students and she'll be greatly missed," Dawson said.

East Hills Middle School's PTO made all the police officers and staff members lunch after they got back from the funeral services.

Nelms leaves behind a husband and two sons.
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