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Community remembers impact of Gardner Newman Middle School teacher

Last week, Gardner Newman Middle School lost a teacher, mentor, friend and Mustang family member.

On Thursday, Donna Webb, 49, lost her life after a six-year long battle with Myeloproliferative and Polycythemia vera cancer.

Webb joined Gardner Newman in 2013 as a seventh-grade mathematics teacher.

“Donna was admired and loved by our parents, students, and Mustang Family. She changed the trajectory of students’ paths and enhanced the lives of many through the powerful relationships she created,” GNMS Principal Kelly Adams said. “Despite Donna’s battle with cancer, she was always positive and went the second mile. Gardner Newman Middle School and Troup County are better because of Donna Webb. Mrs. Webb will forever be in the hearts of many and part of our Mustang Family.”

Webb leaves behind her parents, Don and Dianne Turner; loving husband, Mark Webb; son, Allen Webb; and brother, Chris Turner; several other family and friends.

“A lot of people didn’t know she had cancer,” Allen said. “She very much strived to have a normal sense of life. We can’t even fathom the number of lives she touched because we hear stories all the time about it. She truly did a lot.”

Allen said his mom took chemo pills for a long time until she just recently she started on IV chemo treatments.

A longtime friend, Kim Skiff, said that Donna went above and beyond for her students.

“She was amazing,” Skiff said. “She went over and above beyond than just the classroom hours. If anyone needed extra help, she was always there and wanted her students to succeed. She never wanted a student to flop or fall.”

Webb was honored by the school as the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year.

“She was just the type of teacher that the kids are going to learn whether they realize it or not,” Skiff said. “She made sure that every child caught on. She believed in rewards and the kids absolutely loved being in her class.”

Skiff said despite battling cancer in the midst of a pandemic, Webb never thought twice about going back to in-person teaching this year.

“She never once questioned COVID or her health and never put her health over the success of the students,” Skiff said. “She was just teaching Wednesday.”

On Friday morning, GNMS gathered the students to tell them the news of the passing of Webb.

GNMS also released a statement on Facebook Friday afternoon that said, “Dear Mustang families, it is with great sadness that our Mustang family announces the passing of one of our beloved teachers, Mrs. Donna Webb.  She was a 7th grade math teacher and leader with our school for seven years. At Gardner Newman, we are a close-knit family and will lean on each other to get through Mrs. Webb’s passing.  The loss of any family member is always difficult but we are known for our strength, love for one another and resilience. We have grief counselors onsite to help our students and staff during this grieving process. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for Mrs. Webb’s family and our Mustang family.”

The post had more than 100 shares and comments from former students, friends and family all singing Webb’s praises.

“I feel confident in saying that her many teaching accolades came in second to her love for our children,” Adams said. “Children who needed school supplies never went without in Donna’s classroom. Donna frequently rewarded her students’ achievements by bringing them breakfast, having pizza parties, and attending their athletic events. She regularly supported our Mustang athletics by overseeing ticket sales and supervising at sporting events.”

Webb was a known for always putting her students above herself.

“So many of the younger teachers went to her as a mentor and everyday things in the classroom as well,” Skiff said. “She made a huge difference and the footprints that she left in life are going to be hard to be replaced or even compared to.”

Gardner Newman Middle School provided psychologists, counselors and extra staff to assist students and teachers.

Adams said counselors from other schools in Troup County have enabled students to journal, talk and draw to cope with their grief.

A graveside service will be held 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20 in Meadoway Gardens with the Rev. Aaron McCollough officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Donna Webb Memorial Fund, in care of Hilyer Baptist Church, 88 Lower Big Springs Rd., LaGrange, Georgia 30241.

Those wishing to share a condolence or remembrance with the family may do so by visiting www.shlagrange.com.