A McKinney ISD teacher died Monday from complications related to the flu virus just days after loved ones say she fell ill.
Amanda Kelly taught art at McKinney ISD’s Valley Creek Elementary. Kelly was previously recognized during the 2019/2020 school year as the school’s Teacher of the Year, according to the district.
“There are some people that, they’re born to be a teacher, you know? They have the ability to train others, educate others but also to encourage. She was a good listener. She brought out the best in you,” said Blynda Christian.
Christian first met Kelly 20 years ago when the Baylor graduate came to her looking for a job at the Art Insitute of McKinney. There, Kelly taught art classes but according to Christian, she was quick to jump in to help with whatever was needed.
“I think Amanda was loved because of the kind of person she was. She was one of the good ones,” said Christian.
When launching McKinney’s Krewe of Barkus parade, Christian turned to Kelly as her right-hand-woman to help bring the Mardi Gras-themed event to life.
“She has been with me for 20 years organizing and pulling off Barkus and basically keeping me sane during a crazy week. I can’t imagine doing that now,” said Christian.
Christian said it was just Saturday when the two last spoke.
“We were chatting about my crazy Halloween costume and how this flu was just driving her crazy,” she said.
She said after falling ill toward the end of the week, Kelly was rushed to the hospital with complications from the flu Sunday.
By Monday morning, Christian said Kelly was gone.
“We all just continue to be shocked and reeling really,” said Christian.
For groups like McKinney Youth on Stage, director Doug Valentine said Kelly will be remembered for her unending support.
“She was one of those people that you want as a parent involved in a program,” said Valentine.
In her three years of volunteering, Valentine said Kelly tackled everything from concessions to tedious set design work.
“She was that behind-the-scenes person that you can always depend on, and I think she made a difference in everyone’s life,” he said.
Kelly leaves behind her husband, Brad and daughter, Parker.
In a statement to NBC5, Brad Kelly said:
Amanda was an amazing person and the best thing that I could have asked for. She was truly a gift from God and I cherished her for the 20+ years we were together. I thanked God every evening for her because she was a gift that I was not worthy of but He blessed me with. She touched the world through her love of art and to see the posts on social media just reinforced to me what a beautiful soul she was and how she reached people in the McKinney community and beyond. She was so special and the world is a little darker today than it was but hopefully the little artists that she connected with will continue her love of art and shine bright.
Christian said Kelly’s love will continue to live on in the classroom and in all of the venues in which she served, including next year’s Barkus parade.
“This next year our theme is ‘Who are our superheroes?’,” said Christian. “I know who mine is.”