Students, parents and loved ones are remembering Michelle Suire after the S.J. Montgomery Elementary teacher died from complications of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. She was 53.
Suire worked as a special education teacher for the Lafayette Parish School System.
"It's a very big loss," said Cortney Romero, whose sons were taught by Suire. "She was just a good, down-to-earth person."
Romero has struggled to tell her second- and fifth-grade children that their teacher died from the same virus that's kept them away from in-person school since March.
The older of her sons learned the news after asking his dad why his mom was crying. The 11-year-old cried so hard he threw up. Romero doesn't plan to tell her 8-year-old son the news, at the recommendation of another special education teacher, to avoid upsetting him.
Suire had been Jaylon's teacher from first through fourth grade, and Suire had recently begun teaching his younger brother, Jayce. She would also keep up with the boys through the online academy even though she was teaching students in-person on the school's campus.
"She had a really big impact on both of my kids, especially my older one," Romero said. "When he first started seeing her, he wasn't able to read or write, and throughout the years, she got him to where he needed to be. And she was in the process of making that same change with my second son, but unfortunately, she passed."
Suire died Tuesday at a local hospital from complications of COVID-19, according to her ex-husband. The family is unsure how she contracted the virus.
Trent Suire said he was texting with his ex-wife the night she was placed on a ventilator. He said she died hours after their written conversation.
"She was the best mother for my kids that I could ask for," Trent Suire wrote in a message to The Acadiana Advocate.
In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Michelle Suire wrote that she had been at the hospital since Saturday and had been fighting a fever, pneumonia and low oxygen levels. She wrote that she was on day nine of the virus and was terrified.
"Please keep me in your prayers," Michelle Suire wrote. "I am not ready to die. There are still many things I want to do. Please pray for my kids. They are amazing kids, but I am very worried about them right now."
Michelle Suire leaves behind a 19-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
"She was an amazing mother, teacher, and friend to many," the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators wrote in a Facebook post. "Her light will shine on in the positive influence she has had on her students and loved ones. Ms. Suire will be greatly missed by all."
Staff writer Katie Gagliano contributed to this report.