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Remembering Katherine Koonce, a victim of the mass shooting in Nashville


Katherine Koonce was one of the victims of Monday's mass shooting in Nashville. The 60-year-old educator was headmaster at the Covenant School.

ANNA CAUDILL: She lived in a manner that has informed how I live and love the people around me.


Anna Caudill worked with Koonce for eight years at another school in Nashville, and they remained friends. She says Koonce had a way of combining developmental psychology with her Christian faith.

CAUDILL: A lot of what she did that was brilliant was she could translate that technical sort of language around childhood developmental psychology into language that people within a church setting could understand. She would talk about the potential of kids, but in terms of their unique potential as a sacred gift from God.

MARTÍNEZ: Caudill says her friend worked to empower kids with learning disabilities.

CAUDILL: She was so frank. And at first it would make me mad because I thought, gosh, I don't want kids' feelings to be hurt. I don't want them to feel ashamed. But what I learned over time was that by being frank with them, she gave them voice, and they were able to better advocate for themselves.

MARTIN: After she got word about the shooting on Monday, Caudill started watching the live news coverage.

CAUDILL: I realized about an hour into it that I was looking for Katherine. And I didn't see her. And I just kept thinking, OK, she's taking care of kids, or she's getting on the bus to go with kids to the reunification point.

MARTIN: On her way to pick up her 17-year-old son after a lockdown at his school, which is near Covenant, she found out what happened to Koonce.

CAUDILL: As I was on the way to the carpool line, my husband called and said, Katherine didn't make it.

MARTÍNEZ: She says it's a loss that will affect her entire community.

CAUDILL: Are we just going to keep letting this happen? How many - do we have that many Katherine Koonces that can just be erased? That woman was a tree. And to uproot her, you're talking about a loss of generations of knowledge and building and empowering. We can't afford that.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Anna Caudill talking about her friend Katherine Koonce, who was killed Monday by a mass shooter at the Covenant School in Nashville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.