‘Loved his students’: Union County middle school teacher dies after battle with COVID

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — A Union County school is mourning the loss of one their own after a beloved teacher died from COVID-19 last weekend.

According to a letter sent to parents, Union Academy Charter School Middle School teacher and coach Ken Stanley died on Saturday in the hospital after a weekslong battle with the virus.

“It definitely makes me sad someone who has been at an establishment serving children for so many years then to pass away,” neighbor Amanda Dearmas said.

Our hearts are broken to have lost our beloved Mr. Stanley yesterday. For 15 years, he has been more than a teacher to...

Posted by Union Academy Charter School on Sunday, January 31, 2021

School leaders said Stanley taught math and coached hundreds of students over the last 15 years.

“Ken Stanley faithfully served Union Academy for 15 years,” Head of School John Marshall said. “Among his many wonderful qualities, he was kind, tender and loved his students deeply. He will be missed by everyone in the UA family.”

Teacher Beth Rushing described Stanley as having a gift for making everyone feel like they were the most special person -- he knew how to connect with people.

“Mr. Stanley was the kind of teacher who took care of kids,” Rushing said. “He didn’t just teach math, he had a knack for making everyone feel they were the most special person to him -- and they were. He was a model to others for being a dad, a parent, a teacher, a friend, and a loved one. Ken did so many things to help others without needing or wanting credit. He was the best sidekick I could ever dream of having for the past 15 years.”

Monday was the first time students were on campus since Christmas, and school officials said they were preparing to give them time to process the news and make counselors available throughout the day.

Leaders said they will provide more information soon on how they will honor Stanley’s contributions to the school and legacy.