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Among those left soul searching in the wake of Josie Ann Abney’s death are the teachers and educators she worked with during her short life. They report the young girl which dutifully attended their classes nearly always had a smile and was a committed student.

Josie was awarded for perfect attendance at North Wood R-IV several times. This past spring, she also received a Reading Circle Certificate and was on the A-honor roll at Salem Upper Elementary.

“Josie always had a smile on her face. Every day she would come in and give me a big hug,” writes Krystal Sims, who was one of Josie’s teachers at the upper elementary. “God let Josie's light shine a little brighter because he knew it wouldn't shine for long. She loved to dance and be silly when we did GoNoodle dances, and giggled lots about everything. I do ‘Big Squeezes’ with some of my kiddos because they need deep pressure to calm and regulate their bodies. Josie didn't need them for that reason, but she loved to get them anyways, now I know she needed them for other reasons.”

Andrea Ramsey-Sullins, one of Josie’s classroom tutors at North Wood R-IV, also remembers her physical embrace.

“She hugged with her entire little body,” Ramsey-Sullins writes. “She was happy, caring and loving. She wanted to please those that she loved, which were many. She loved all she came in contact with. She was cheerful and upfront. She was enthusiastic about discovering new things and excited about life.”

Kristi Moses was also one of Josie’s educators at North Wood R-IV.

“Josie was a ray of sunshine. She always had a giant smile on her face and touched the hearts of all who came in contact with her,” Moses writes. “She greeted me each day with a hug and ‘I love you.’ Then I would get the ‘You missed me didn't ya? I know you did!’ And of course, I'd tell her I sure did miss her the night before. She was kind and loving to every student she was in class with. All of the adults in the building and a lot of other parents who saw her as they dropped off their students each day fell in love with her. She was always saying something hilarious and kept us laughing all the time. She was an absolutely beautiful child inside and out. Her kindergarten year is one I'll have imprinted on my heart forever. My life was made so much better for having had her in it.”

Sims says she, like the other educators who knew Josie, will continue to cherish memories of her.

“She was always the last one to leave the class because she would be telling me a story about something, whether something she had done, seen or imagined, we will never know, but she would have to tell it,” Sims says. “Now I wish I would have listened a little more. I only had her in my class for a couple short months, but she left a big impact on my heart. She was a sweet little girl who was very happy and bubbly. She cared about others and enjoyed sharing her light and love with all.”