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JPS teacher dies of COVID complications; Family, friends remember her as passionate educator

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 11:26 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - When the school bell rings at North Jackson Elementary School, Theodora Bridges was one teacher students loved to see.

“She loved teaching, she loved science,” said Jocelyn Smith, the school’s superintendent. “Her eyes lit up when she talked about science experiments with children. She loved making it fun for them.”

Smith and Bridges worked together at the elementary school. The principal said the fifth grade science teacher loved being around her students.

“My memories of her are her class being active all the time with experiments going on,” Smith recalled. Bridges was just starting her 10th year as an educator.

However, not long into the new school year, the 37-year-old stepped away from the classroom, fearing she might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“Because she had several students who had to be quarantined or tested positive,” said Ellelean Childress, Bridges’ older sister. On August 27, Childress said her sister took a COVID test.

The results came back negative. But days later, Bridges still didn’t feel well.

“So she went back to her primary care doctor, got a COVID test, it came back positive,” said Childress.

Bridges then went to the ER to be treated. She was sent home Wednesday, September 1. Family members thought she was feeling fine.

Then Thursday, September 2, rolled around and no one had heard from the educator.

“My mom called my brother, she said your sister still isn’t answering her phone, could you please go check on her,” Childress explained. “When he went to her bedroom he found her unresponsive. Called 911, the paramedics came, and that’s when they let us know she had expired.”

Family members said Bridges had gotten her first dose of the vaccine and was waiting to take her second.

She did complain about having a bad cough, but Childress said she never thought this would be the end result.

“For us, we didn’t expect it to be COVID, she just declined so quickly.”

Still having a hard time coming to grips with the loss, Childress is now cherishing her last conversation with her sister to help get her though this tough time.

“She said that she was a little tired,” said Childress. “She coughed a little bit during the conversation, and I said, ‘Ok, I’ll let you go,’ and I was like, ‘I love you.’ She said I love you too, so that was our last conversation.”

Childress said they’ve now set up a donation drive in honor of the school teacher. All of the money raised will be used to purchase PPE and other supplies for school teachers here in Jackson.

For more information on how you can donate, you can visit Trustmark National Bank-Special account name Theodora Bridges

Via Mail:

Washington Funeral Home

Attn:Bridges Family

714 Second Street

Tylertown, MS 39967

Cashapp: $TBridgesmemorial

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