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Washington teacher dies from hypothermia during snowstorm

Kathy Jenks taught in Shoreline and Snohomish for more than three decades.

SNOHOMISH, Wash. — A teacher whose body was found outside in Snohomish County Wednesday night died from hypothermia. 

57-year-old Kathy Jenks was last seen leaving her home on Sunday and was reported missing Monday, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. 

Friends and colleagues were stunned by the news.

"It's a very sad, hole in the heart kind of feeling," said Alisa Jerauld.

Jerauld remembered the day 17 years ago when she dropped her son off for his first day of kindergarten. She couldn't remember who was more nervous, but recalled that feeling didn't last long.

"From the moment he walked in the class he loved it, he loved her and he loved being in her class," said Jerauld, a substitute teacher.

It was that sort of sweetness that set the 57-year-old Jenks apart.

School nurse Susan Goldman met Jenks when her son came to Meridian Park Elementary as a brand new second grader who didn't know anybody.

"She made him feel so welcome. He loved coming to school," said Goldman. "They got a class fish. It was a male fish. They named the fish Kathy because they all loved her so much."

Jenks most recently taught second grade at Little Cedars Elementary School in Snohomish. She taught at North City and Syre Elementary Schools in Shoreline, as well. She spent most of her career at Shoreline's Briarcrest Elementary, working there for 17 years.

She was remembered there for her weekly Wednesday walks when she would visit the homes of her students.

Dean of Students Sadrina Dorn said Jenks was truly something special.

"Every child, every person she ever was around, she touched their heart. Her spirit was so genuine and so loving. You couldn't be around her and not feel love. I'm gonna miss her. I'm gonna miss everything about her."

Jenks is survived by her husband and three grown children.

The school issued the following statement to families on Friday:

Dear Little Cedars families,

 I am sorry to share news of a tragedy within our Little Cedars Elementary family. We have learned that 2nd grade teacher Kathy Jenks recently unexpectedly passed away.

 We are heartbroken by this news. Her death is a profound loss to our Little Cedars Elementary family, our school district and to the Snohomish community. Mrs. Jenks loved kids and was passionate about helping them reach their full potential.

 Students will have varied reactions to death and death of a teacher. Any reaction is normal in the grief process and can range from withdrawal, to crying and anger. It is important to create an atmosphere of comfort and openness, and to convey that there's no single right way to feel or grieve. We are sharing this with you to have the opportunity to address this loss with your child. Please be aware that we will not be formally announcing this to all students, and they may be hearing about it through peers.

 Here at Little Cedars Elementary we will try to maintain as normal a routine and structure as the situation and people allow. We understand that some of your children may have had deeper relationships with Mrs. Jenks than others. If you feel that your child or family needs some assistance, please contact us. We will do everything we can to support you.

 A variety of resources are also available within our community. Members of our district’s counseling and support team will be available at Little Cedars Elementary beginning Friday, January 17. We can be reached at lew.dickert@sno.wednet.edu and samuel.hanson@sno.wednet.edu. Feel free to call our school office as well at 360-563-2900.