New Year’s Day brought the sudden death of a Pitt County Schools Elementary teacher

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Students of Ridgewood Elementary are walking the halls with heavy hearts after losing one of their teachers, Mrs. Cherry McKnight.

Kylie Ormond, one of McKnight’s childhood friends says, “I loved her and it’s very special to see how many other lives she touched in that way.”

McKnight was a mother, a teacher, and a friend to many. Ormond says she’s been grieving the loss since McKnight died suddenly on Sunday. Her newborn son passed shortly after. “I can’t even begin to fathom how many lives she touched at Ridgewood.”

Crisis counselors are on standby for the young lives she touched because at home they’re likely to have questions.

Experts say it’s important for parents to be honest and not avoid the conversation of death with their kids just because it’s uncomfortable.

“Try not to tell folks, or children especially, that someone has gone to sleep for a really long time or left or will never come back. That typically brings up questions like where did they go or why won’t they wake up, or they can start to trigger fears about well, I go to sleep and is there a chance that I’ll go to sleep and never wake up?” Brody/ECU Health Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr. Karlene Cunningham told WITN.

Dr. Cunningham also reminds parents to be patient with their young ones as research shows the grieving process of someone you were close to is nearly two years.

McKnight was an Exceptional Students teacher at Ridgewood and the son of one of her best friends was in her care. She leans on the legacy McKnight leaves behind.

“That memory of Cherry when she held him in the worst moment that he was having and that helped me, not only with my son but with other people too,” says Kimetris Brown, one of McKnight’s close friends.

Now they ask other people to support McKnight’s surviving family.

“If our community can help Aaron and our surviving son, it would be such a blessing,” says Ormond.

A Go Fund Me has raised over $9,000 exceeding the initial $700 goal. To donate– Fundraiser for Aaron McKnight by Shakenna Forbes : In loving memory of Cherry Barrett McKnight (