Amber Thurman's co-workers share their thoughts at her passing

-A A +A

'Love you girl'

What’s in a name 

One of the funniest memories I have of Amber is in my third year teaching. 

I was split between Buffalo Elementary and LaRue County Middle Schools. I kept hearing about this Amber Thurman who taught science. 

Finally, I run into her and say, “You are not Amber Thurman, you are Nikki Witten.”

For all of us that went to school with her, that is what she was known as. After she became my principal, she didn’t just become just my boss, she changed from a high school classmate to a friend. 

See you again someday my friend. Love ya!

Verda Dunn Hacker, ALES P.E. teacher


An inspiration

Amber Thurman was one of the most inspirational people I have known. Her love of family, LaRue County students and co-workers was amazing.  

She loved and saw the good in everyone she met. Her smile was big, beautiful and warm. She will be deeply missed by all.

Diana Cottrell, ALES second grade teacher


Best students, best staff

Mrs. Thurman believed in all of her students as well as each staff member. She told us numerous times, “She had the BEST students and staff anywhere.” 

She said she would put us up against any other school in the state. We always knew that she truly believed in us.   

Melissa Newby, ALES kindergarten teacher


Feel the love

Mrs. Thurman always told us to “feel the love.” We could always feel her love the minute we saw her smiling face.  

Mrs. Kellie Shirley


Her smile would light up a room

Mrs. Thurman was one of the most loving and giving persons I have ever met. She had a smile that would light up a room. The students always came first. When decisions were made, it was always with them in mind.  

Our thoughts and prayers are with Zach and Sara Ellen. Amber will be greatly missed by so many. If warm smiles and hugs could have saved her, she would have lived forever. May she walk with peace today. We will always love you girl!

Lisa Hawkins, ALES primary teacher


Beautiful inside and out

Amber Thurman was a beautiful person, inside and out.  She loved everyone and wanted everyone to show love, through hugs and encouragement to our ALES staff, students and parents. Whenever you saw her she always had a beautiful smile on her face. Her love, caring and hugs will be greatly missed by all, but never forgotten.

Machelle Durham, ALES Family Resource Center Coordinator



Five years ago around this time I became a teacher for the very first time. I will never forget how scared I was, so sure that I was going to fail. Calming my fear was an amazing lady who knew just what to say. Little did I know she would become my biggest cheerleader and supporter.  Not only was Amber Thurman my principal, she was my friend. Her special hugs, notes, and I love you’s will forever be engraved in my heart. Our arms may be empty, but our hearts will  forever be full of the passion and love she instilled in each of us.  She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten! 

Andrea Smith, ALES kindergarten teacher 


Full of laughter and love

Amber was a very kind and loving person. She was a wonderful person to work for and a great friend.

Amber was full of laughter and love.

She wanted nothing but the best for the staff and students. She loved the kids so much! She would give them lots of hugs and kisses on the forehead to let them know they were loved. (That is one of the special memories my first graders have of her.) I can envision her giving them out to the kids in heaven now.  

She wanted to make sure we provided the best education for our students. She also gave encouragement to us.

Amber was always so kind hearted and would help anyone, no matter what their need may have been. She always saw the good in people.

Amber loved her children, Zachary and Sarah so much! They were her world. She always wanted the best for them and was so proud of them.

She will be greatly missed, but we will continue on to do our BEST just like she wanted.   

Bethany Bowen, ALES first grade teacher


Belief in the good of people

Ms. Thurman was a very motivating, positive person. What I will always remember about her was her belief in the good of people. She always found and brought out the best in students and staff at our school. She was a great encourager with her words, hugs and smiles.

She will always be in our hearts to remind us to, “feel the love!” 

D.J. Canter, ALES fourth grade teacher


Silver lining

What I will always carry in my mind of Amber is her ability to smile even when it’s tough. She always found the silver lining in every storm cloud and made the most of the rain.    

Carlene Gibson, ALES first grade teacher 


Guidance and friendship

Mrs. Thurman was truly a special lady.  She could light up a room with her beautiful smile.  She knew every student by name and loved each one with all her heart. I will greatly miss her smile, guidance, and friendship; however, I will strive to continue to be “Blue” in all I do and she will never be forgotten.

Samantha Ray, ALES third grade teacher


A ray of sunshine

Mrs. Thurman was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. To her, the children always deserved to receive a bright smile and a love filled hug regardless of what she might had been dealing with professionally or personally. Her presence at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School will be missed, but her spirit will remain in the hearts of each and every one that she touched.

Darcy Pruitt, ALES first grade teacher


Keeping her spirit alive

I count myself blessed to have had the opportunity to teach with Amber at the middle school, and then later to work under her as the principal of Magnolia and Abraham Lincoln Elementary. She will always be in my heart and I’ll strive to keep her spirit alive here at ALES.

Jackie Harley, ALES fourth grade teacher


Blessed to know her

I was blessed to have known her.

When I first came to work I was lucky enough to work with her in her classroom.  She was a very friendly and warm person. She made me feel comfortable and wanted.

In my opinion there was never anyone who cared about children more than she did. 

I am proud to call her my friend.

Kay Bright, ALES preschool assistant


Love you girl

Amber became principal of Magnolia Elementary School in 2002, that same year she hired me as her secretary. We quickly became more than employer/employee, we became close friends outside of school as well. She was one of the most compassionate, loving and giving women I have ever known. 

I have a very hard time trying to find the words to express the emotions that I’m feeling at this time. My heart is broken for me, and for the children and community of LaRue County. I will forever miss hearing “Love you girl.” I will miss our texts, talks, I will miss that giggle ... she had the sweetest giggle and she laughed a lot! I will forever miss her hugs and gentle ways, along with every student and the staff of ALES. Our school will never be the same, yet we are all better for knowing such a remarkable person.  

Stacey K. Cecil, ALES kindergarten assistant and former secretary


They mattered

Ms. Amber Thurman made everyone that she came into contact with feel special. Whether it was a child getting off the bus on a rainy morning, a staff member sitting in a faculty meeting or her own children whom she loved so much, she devoted individual attention to making that person feel as though they mattered. She made a difference in the lives of so many by making their world a better place. She will never be replaced or forgotten.

Karlotta Cecil, ALES fifth grade teacher, and Tiffany Riggs, ALES


Beautiful smile

Rarely did we see Mrs. Thurman without a beautiful smile on her face. She will be greatly missed. Her memory remains alive in our hearts. 

Erin Hardwick, ALES Special Education


Always made me laugh

She was the only woman I know who could conduct a parent teacher conference in her pajamas, or wearing pink flamingo glasses and keep a straight face. Amber always made me smile she truly was a ray of sunshine. 

Sherry McMillion, ALES third grade teacher


Conquer anything

Mrs. Thurman was the type of person that would make you feel as if you could conquer anything. She was everyone’s shoulder to lean on. She truly believed that people could make a difference. She will be truly missed. 

Amy Kiper, ALES third grade teacher


Amazing ability

Amber Thurman had the amazing ability to accept and love each and every student for who they were. She accepted my students into the school from Hodgenville with unconditional love and acceptance. She is such an inspiration to me because of how she always looked and saw the positive in every situation. Never in the six or seven years of working at ALES did I hear her say a negative thing about anyone. If not for Ms. Thurman, I would have never returned to college to obtain my teaching degree. She will be greatly missed.

Terri Young, ALES teacher



Amber was a very loving and compassionate person. She will be greatly missed!  

Carla Graham, ALES, TRT


An honor and a privilege

It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked with Ms. Thurman over the past several years. I first worked with her as a teacher at LaRue County Middle School, then as she was a central office resource, and for the past few years as my principal. Her passion for teaching and learning was second to none. She always loved the students of our schools with all of her heart and always kept their best interest at heart. Amber Thurman will truly be missed.

Traci M. DeVary, Speech-Language Pathologist



My heart breaks at the loss of a friend who was so generous with her smiles, hugs, love and especially her encouragement.

Diane Morris, ALES RTA intervention teacher

Morris shared this poem by David Harkins:

You can shed tears that she is gone or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.



Vibrant. The moment I met Mrs. Thurman this was the word that came to mind. I never passed her in the hallway without receiving a hug and that bright smile she always wore. She made my first year teaching at ALES an amazing experience. There is so much to be learned about education through her but more importantly about life. Like she always said, we need to “have fun” not only at school but everyday. You will be dearly missed Mrs. Thurman. Like you always would say ...”love ya girl!”

Karen Rice, ALES first grade teacher


Unconditional love

As a parent and educator, I’ve often heard the phrase, “unconditional love” encouraged. When I think about words to describe Amber Thurman, I reflect upon that phrase of “unconditional love.”  Amber had no boundaries for loving others.  Her love for others was so genuine and those who received it, knew it. She had no boundaries for loving others.  “Catch them being good!” is another group of words declared as words of wisdom for caregivers. Amber was one to “Catch Everyone Being Good” telling you what she noticed on a note written especially for you. She gave them to students, teachers, janitors, kitchen staff, assistants. She made parents feel more than welcome. She understood their emotions and wants, fulfilling their needs with compassion. Students, parents, and co-workers felt as though they had her support and that each were her best friend. Her hugs were cherished not only by students but the adults desired them too.  Amber’s display of unconditional love will always be an inspiration for me. 

Beverly Heady, ALES second grade teacher


Unlimited hugs

Amber was an amazing lady! She made a difference in each child’s life, her hugs were unlimited with lots of love.

She will be missed but always remembered.

Esther Wolford, ALES Attendance Clerk


A wonderful experience

Working with Mrs. Thurman has been a wonderful experience. I’ve worked with the school since last year while student teaching, subbing and now as an assistant. There are no words to describe how hard it is to know she is no longer with us.  It has been a wonderful experience working with Mrs. Thurman over the past year and a half.

Amber Jinnett, ALES Instructional Assistant


Her smile lit up a town

Her smile lit up a town, her hugs rocked your world, her strength carried a community, her love filled a school, and her life graced with faith will be remembered forever. I am so blessed to be able to have called her my friend.

Melissa Longhofer, ALES School Administrative Manager


Precious creation

What a special lady she was; a wonderful principal and great friend. One of God’s most extra precious creations.

I am most fortunate to have had the opportunity to work and serve the children of LaRue County alongside her.

Penny Akers, ALES music teacher


Encouraging words

It has been a pleasure to work with Ms. Amber Thurman. She was so supportive of the entire faculty and staff, including myself. Her love and enthusiasm for education and for the children of LaRue County was apparent. She will continue to be remembered as a warm smile and encouraging words. She will be greatly missed.

Joni Rust, M.A., Speech-Language Pathologist


More than a principal

Amber was more than a principal, she was a friend. I will miss her words of love and encouragement and her hugs. She will be forever in my heart. I will continue to work hard for our students and to keep her memory alive at ALES.

Missy Flanders, ALES fourth grade teacher


Contagious smile

There are so many fond memories that I have of Ms. Thurman. One thing is her smile, it was contagious. A positive attitude, “we can do it” or “we are going to get through this,” are just some of her daily motivational phrases.

I am blessed to have had the past four years to work with her in so many capacities as a volunteer and a member of several councils. Ms. Thurman was a true friend and a wonderful educator and administrator. She loved the children at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School and always kept their best interest at heart!

Farrah Pruitt