RICHMOND, Ind. (WISH) — A community is mourning the death of a beloved special education teacher in Wayne County.
29-year-old Anthony Armstrong was killed in a crash while heading to a basketball tournament in Greenfield.
Administrators at Test Intermediate School received a phone call over the weekend saying one of their teachers was involved in an accident on I-70.
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office said Armstrong was hit and killed by a semi while changing a flat tire on the side of the road.
Students, teachers, and staff returned to Test Intermediate School this week with heavy hearts after learning about the tragic death of Mr. Anthony Armstrong.
“This has been the hardest week of my career professionally,” said principal Stacy Mopps of Test Intermediate School.
Principal Mopps worked with the special education teacher.
“The kids that were actually in his room were minimal, but his impact was felt everywhere,” he said.
The principal said Armstrong also coached the seventh grade boys’ basketball team. He described him as laid back, someone who always had a smile on his face.
“He stood in the hallway every day monitoring hallway; he did a countdown to get kids to class, held a basketball all the time when he was in the hallway,” he said. “He just interacted with everybody, teachers loved him. He made their jobs easier so he had a huge impact for the short time he was here.”
Armstrong had only been with the school since last summer. But in that short time, the principal said he excelled at his job and bonded with his students.
The school opened up his classroom so students could write messages on his whiteboard. Many of them left messages expressing pain, anger, sorrow, and regret. One message read, “My last words to him was I’ll see you Monday.”
“Even some of our most closed students were emotional and that makes the staff here emotional,” he said. “My secretary was giving out hugs to kids as they came in and they were asking her for those.”
The impact Armstrong had on his students and staff also touched a familiar face in Indiana: the owner of the Colts Jim Irsay.
“Jim Irsay donated $10,000 dollars and that’s huge and that rippled through the school it didn’t take very long,” he said. “Once again it brought a lot of emotions back to know that somebody can understand how much he cared and how much Anthony cared and gave to the students and to have that being reciprocated.”
24-Hour News 8 learned from the Colts organization that Jim Irsay read about Armstrong’s story on Twitter. The story resonated with him so he made a donation.
The principal knows the donation will mean a lot for Armstrong’s wife and three children. For now, he said everyone at school is taking it one day at a time.
“We just try to do it one day at a time so we got through today. We’re going to try to get through tomorrow and we’ll always remember him,” he said. “Our kids will never forget him and he’ll just always be in our hearts.”
Principal Mopps said the school is planning a lantern release next Tuesday morning in honor of Mr. Armstrong.
As for the crash, the sheriff’s office said it appears to be an accident and the semi driver did not see Armstrong on the side of the road, but they are still investigating.
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