BATON ROUGE, La. (WKRN/BRPROUD) — Baton Rouge is mourning the loss of Headmaster Dr. Katherine Koonce, who was one of two Louisiana natives killed in the mass shooting at The Covenant School.
Koonce had been the head of the Covenant School since August 2000. She was among three of the adults and three children killed.
Koonce was known as the sort of educator who made a habit of greeting every student by name in the morning.
Stephana Greene, a parent of children who attend Covenant School, described the beloved principal, saying, “She loved God and she loved people. So, it doesn’t surprise me at all that she died protecting people.”
Greene touched on Koonce’s mindset and how she encouraged it to be applied on campus, saying, “Their motto was, ‘Where children can be known, seen and loved.'”
In addition to working as a devoted educator, Koonce was a wife and mother of two. She attended University High Lab School and studied at LSU.
Those who knew her described her as a mentor who readily made herself available to others.
“Her door was always open… she would be willing to either lead you in scripture or if nothing else, she’ll even refer you to a therapist,” Greene said. “She just wanted to help, and she circled back. She always made sure to come back around to say, ‘Hey, how did that work out?'”
A day after the shooting, friends and colleagues shared memories of Koonce.
Jessica Hutcherson worked with her for more than two years and she shared a memory of a joke Koonce made about eating gluten, saying, “She told me that, like, whenever she eats gluten, it feels like somebody drugged her when she’s been at a party or something and somebody put something in her drink. You know, it’s crazy sometimes, but she’s like, that’s exactly what it feels like.”
The beloved educator was also known as a foodie.
“She would always talk about who had good Cajun food in the area and who didn’t,” Greene said.
Click here to view statements from Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards about the Tennessee shooting.