Students remember beloved Pulaski County teacher

Tuesday, Burnside Elementary first grade teacher Stephanie Foster died after a battle with COVID-19.

SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Pulaski County community is mourning the loss of Stephanie Foster, a beloved first grade teacher, who taught in the area for 17 years. Tuesday, Foster, who was just 40 years old, died after a battle with COVID-19. Her former students say Foster was a nurturing and inspiring teacher.

Foster taught first at Shopville Elementary school, and then Burnside Elementary School, where she taught for about 15 years.

According to Pulaski County Schools Superintendent Patrick Richardson, this is the first employee COVID-19 related death in the Pulaski County school system.

“You know, it hits close to home. She’s going to be a big void to fill at Burnside, and she was a positive force in our community,” said Richardson.

Kyra LaRue says she was a first grade student of Foster’s from 2006 to 2007 at Shopville Elementary, and remembers the caring environment of Foster’s classroom.

“I just, I remember warmth. I felt happy. There were no bad feelings ever when we were in her classroom,” said LaRue.

LaRue says the year she started first grade, her mother had just remarried and the family relocated to Kentucky.

“Coming to school, I was terrified. I’ve always loved school, and going to this new place where I knew nobody was scary. I just have this memory, there were so many decorations on the wall, it was brightly colored, and we had little nameplates,” said LaRue.

She says Foster’s nurturing classroom made her feel at home.

“She knew it was my first year in Kentucky. She always made sure we were taken care of and had everything we needed,” said LaRue.

LaRue is now a high school biology teacher at Madison Central High School in Richmond, and says Foster is part of the reason she’s a teacher.

“I knew I wanted to do something like she did, I wanted to take care of people like she did. So her positivity was something that definitely encouraged me to keep thinking about potentially being a teacher,” said LaRue.

Hannah Kegley says she had Foster as her first grade teacher back in 2009. She remembers Foster as patient amidst her class of 6 and 7 year-olds.

“We learned, but we also enjoyed our time in her class. She let us play around and have fun. One of the best memories from her class was the day they had inflatables at the school. We all got so excited to play in the gym so we asked her over and over when we got to go, and she stayed patient with us,” said Kegley.

She says even though she was very young at the time, she knew she was valued by Foster.

“She was a kind person and although I was young, I knew she valued my classmates and I so much,” said Kegley.

According to Superintendent Richardson, Foster was also a leader, especially over the last two years during the pandemic, helping other teachers adapt their classrooms to online learning and offering to help familiarize them with the school’s remote learning programs.

“She just really stepped forward through this pandemic, and really stepped into that technology leader role in providing training for our teachers and working them through the different types of programs we might be using. She was always willing to jump in and help and be of assistance. She was also the grade level leader for the first grade teachers in that school,” said Richardson.

Superintendent Richardson says she was always willing to help, and was very selfless with her time.

“She was a very caring person, I feel like she was selfless and gave her time for a lot of others. She was someone that never caused trouble, she was always seen in a positive light,” said Richardson.

Friday, Foster’s visitation was held at Southern Oaks Funeral Home, and she is buried at Southern Oaks Cemetery in Somerset.

Foster is survived by her two young sons, Peyton and Colton Foster, her mother, Wanda Blevins, and her brother, Chris Blevins.

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