Dozens of community members with candles in hand prayed Tuesday night for the recovery of a beloved teacher at Lakewood Elementary School.
Billy Staples was in intensive care on Wednesday after contracting COVID-19. According to director Shelee Park, he was put on a ventilator on Monday.
Organized by the Hardin County Education Association, colleagues and community members gathered outside the Lakewood building for the prayer vigil on Tuesday, small candles in hand. The vigil was created because flowers and other gifts cannot be sent to the hospital.
He is a patient at the Owensboro Regional Health Hospital.
Terry Masterson, an associate with the Kentucky Education Association, said she knew Staples when he was a building representative in Lakewood.
She said Staples is well behaved and a gentleman, and acted as if her students were her own children.
Bill Wooldridge, former president of HCEA, said he was active in the association when he was president, invested in state and federal education issues and served on many many committees for the district.
Kelly Taylor, a physical education teacher, said she has worked with Staples for several years. She said he was special to her and that she prayed that he would get well.
Taylor said Staples really cares about their students and is dedicated to everyone.
“Billy cared about his students more than anyone I know,” Taylor said.
She said Staples is a hard worker, not only at school, but also operating the farm he owns in Big Clifty, where he lives. She also said he is someone who is fun to talk to.
Shannon Edlin, a reading interventionist in Lakewood, said Staples was loyal and “would do anything in the world for anyone.”
She also said she misses her students and has repeatedly asked how he is.
“He’s very invested in what’s going on in their lives and getting to know them on a personal level,” she said.
Staples said that while he was private he was a “big talker” and would always find something to talk about. She said her absence was hard on school.
Andrew Harp can be contacted at 270-505-1414 or [email protected]