Teachers, students struggle with sudden death of Southside teach

Teachers, students struggle with sudden death of Southside teacher

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Southside HIgh School teacher Stefanie Deru was killed in a wreck early Sunday morning. Southside HIgh School teacher Stefanie Deru was killed in a wreck early Sunday morning.
The flag flew at half-staff in front of Southside High School in Gadsden on Monday. Source: Dixon Hayes The flag flew at half-staff in front of Southside High School in Gadsden on Monday. Source: Dixon Hayes
Students left messages for Ms. Deru, including this drawing of an angel, on a pink bulletin board inside the school. Source: Dixon Hayes Students left messages for Ms. Deru, including this drawing of an angel, on a pink bulletin board inside the school. Source: Dixon Hayes
GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) -

School will let out early for four Etowah County schools on Wednesday for the funeral of a Southside High School teacher.

Southside Police say 30 year old Stefanie Deru was killed when her Toyota Land Cruiser wrecked on Highway 77. The wreck happened Sunday morning around 1 a.m.

Southside High School Principal Dr. Marguerite Early says the counseling actually began Sunday, when faculty members and counselors came to the school campus to be available for anyone who needed to talk.

Early says she spoke to the students at an assembly Monday morning and offered the assistance of counselors. Those from the school and others made themselves available. The faculty members themselves even met privately at one point for what Early called "a time to talk and share and laugh and cry."

Early says two bulletin boards were set aside for people wanting to write messages to Deru. Quite a few did so by the end of lunch Monday and two people even drew pictures of angels. A pink box also held messages that will be given to Deru's family.

The flag also flew at half-staff in front of the school.

"It's as good a day as it could be, under the circumstances. I've been very, very, very proud of my staff and the students. And it's just going to be a long, hard week," Early said.

Early says Deru worked as a business teacher and was in her third year on campus. She says Deru also graduated from Southside and "loved this school very much."

School will let out at 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at Southside Elementary and High Schools, and at John Jones Elementary and Rainbow Middle Schools in Rainbow City. That will give students time to attend their teacher's funeral.

Funeral services are set for 3 p.m. Wednesday at Southside Baptist Church, with a public viewing held an hour before the service. Visitation will be Tuesday night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Collier-Butler Funeral Home in Gadsden.

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