CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. - The first day of school is usually full of excitement.
However for some students in Northern Kentucky, starting classes Wednesday was a painful reminder of the loss they suffered a week earlier.
Sandy Riggs taught for more than twenty years at Dixie Heights High School. And she was scheduled to be right back in her classroom again for the 2014 school year.
But she died suddenly last week after suffering a stroke.
“She was a favorite teacher and she was saved for the seniors so it was special when you got to be in her class because one, you were a senior and two, you got to be in Mrs. Riggs' class,” recalled Sue McDevitt, a special education teacher at Dixie Heights.
Riggs taught her famed social studies class for 21 years.
Part of the reason students loved her was the way she treated every child like they were a part of her immediate family, which included her three daughters and her high school sweetheart, Shelby.
“She was very nurturing and not only was she a great educator for the Kenton County School District but she is also a wonderful mother and a wonderful grandmother,” said Jess Dykes, the director of public relations and community engagement for the district.
Riggs was also famous for telling great stories and making her classroom an “exciting place to learn,” according to McDevitt.
“She was always cracking jokes, she just a very loving spirit,” she said. “When she taught, she always taught using stories and they were fascinating and when she told the stories you really got engaged and you're on the edge of your seat.”
Many of those memories and sentiments have been shared on a Facebook page dedicated to her and her ongoing legacy in the community. The private "Sandy 'Momaw' Riggs" page has been liked a couple hundred times.
"This page is dedicated to the family, friends, colleagues and students of Sandy 'Momaw' Riggs. Please leave a story that is special to you," the moderators of the page ask.
While the community has rallied together over their collective loss, Wednesday's gather was a little different, a little more emotional. It was the first time they'd all gathered at Riggs' home away from home school since her passing.
Students spent the Crestview Hills school sharing stories about Riggs, reminiscing and discussing what the woman affectionately known as Momaw meant to them. Students and staff also honored her with a moment of silence before classes started.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family," Dykes said. "She will be missed, she was a beloved teacher."