Georgia elementary school dedicates butterfly garden to educator killed in crash

White Elementary School dedicated a butterfly garden to a paraprofessional who was killed in a crash.
White Elementary School dedicated a butterfly garden to a paraprofessional who was killed in a crash.

Credit: Bartow County School System

Credit: Bartow County School System

Eight months after a police chase resulted in a crash that killed a Bartow County teacher’s assistant, the school where she spent more than two decades has dedicated a butterfly garden in her memory.

White Elementary School’s principal called the garden dedicated to Angie Townsend “a true labor of love for the one educator many WES students affectionately called ‘mom.'"

“This garden honors the hard work, dedication, and loving spirit which Mrs. Townsend exhibited day in and day out,” Principal Amy Heater said in a statement. “For more than 20 years, Angie would often flutter around the school with her energetic spirit and contagious smile, instilling a love of learning everywhere she went, which reminds me of how butterflies fly from bush to bush exhibiting their beauty.”

The garden has two rose bushes, which were Angie Townsend's "favorite pollinating plants," according to White Elementary School's principal.
The garden has two rose bushes, which were Angie Townsend's "favorite pollinating plants," according to White Elementary School's principal.

Credit: Bartow County School System

Credit: Bartow County School System

Townsend, 55, was a paraprofessional in the Bartow school system for 23 years and spent all but two of those years at White Elementary. She was killed Feb. 22 when a suspect fleeing a police chase slammed into the side of her car in downtown Adairsville, authorities said.

The chase began when Georgia State Patrol troopers tried to stop a Mini Cooper, which they clocked going 95 mph on I-75 in Gordon County, the state agency said in a statement. The driver, identified as 20-year-old Christopher Tyler Parker, allegedly refused to stop and continued south. He exited the interstate at Union Grove Road before continuing south on U.S. 41, the GSP said.

ExploreBartow County educator killed during police chase known to students as ‘mom’

Investigators said Parker ran a red light at the intersection of Ga. 140 and smashed into the side of Townsend’s Buick. After the collision, Townsend’s car was sent into the back of a Dodge pickup truck, causing minor injuries to the truck’s driver.

The GSP determined the Mini Cooper had been stolen from Parker’s grandmother. Parker was arrested at the scene and faces charges of vehicular homicide, fleeing and attempting to elude, receiving stolen property and bringing stolen property across state lines.

“Mrs. Townsend was such an amazing part of the White Elementary family,” Heater said in the days following the paraprofessional’s death. “She was truly a devoted staff member who put the needs of our children before her very own. She always had an amazing smile, sense of humor, and a determined, unbreakable spirit. She is going to be missed dearly.”

More than 15 community partners stepped in to provide planters, mulch and soil, Heater said. Townsend’s parents, Jim and Sandra Walker, said the act left them “speechless.”

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“This was an overwhelming feeling for us," they said, "and we felt that was the sweetest way to honor her. She loved White Elementary and her students.”

The community placed two rose bushes in the garden, Heater said, adding that they were Townsend’s “favorite pollinating plants.” It also contains gardenia bushes, a walking trail and a seating area for White Elementary classes to take part in outdoor learning.

The elementary school’s garden club will maintain it, she added.

“Angie would be overjoyed and say, ‘Y’all didn’t have to do all of this,’ and would just sit down and cry,” the Walkers said. “I don’t think she would imagine that she meant so much to so many people.”

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Posted by Bartow County Schools on Thursday, October 8, 2020

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