TACOMA, Wash. -- Friends and family of Jennifer Paulson begin this week with several events honoring the special education teachershot to deathFriday morning by a stalker.
Birney Elementary School, the Tacoma school where Paulson was killed,will be closedthrough Wednesdayto students as the tight knit community tries to get back on its feet.
Local clergy will gather at the schooltoday tohonor Paulsonwithamoment of blessing ceremony at 5 p.m. Associated Ministries hosts Moments of Blessing to reclaim places where people are killed in Pierce County. The ceremony is open to the public.
A memorial service to commemorate Paulsonis scheduled for noon Tuesday at Life Center Church in Tacoma and will also be open to the public.
Those who knew Paulson say she was a woman of great religious faith. Now, family and friends are searching for answers as to how a woman with so much grace and dedication to giving could be hunted and killed by a stalker.
Life is fragile and we have to make life count, said Pastor Dean Curry. None of us can be sure of how our life can end, but we can have a say about it's going to be lived.
Even though there were no classes today, 8-year-old Jacob Starkey and his dad, Brian, made a trip to Birney Elementary School anyway. They brought a trunkload of treats for the teachers and staff who are on campus learning how to help students cope with the murder of a beloved teacher.
It's been tough for everyone, said Brian Starkey.
Counselors are on campus today and tomorrow to guide teachers and parents through this difficult time.
She was just a really sweet woman, said Roselyn Grant, an interpreter for the deaf at Birney. Always had a smile on her face. It's just going to be really hard for us.
Grant describes Paulson as a gentle, natural teacher. Grant is still under what to tell children when they return to school Wednesday.
Just to think of her in a kind way. She's in a better place. She's happy. And just to go on like she wanted us to, said Grant.
Meanwhile, the Starkey family is doing what little they can to support the teachers and staff who support their children.
I have no idea what brings this on, said Brian Starkey. But we're here to support them today. And we'll be here tonight and we'll be at her memorial tomorrow.
Paulson graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 2003 with a degree in special education, a career she felt was her calling. A growing memorial at Birney Elementary, replete with notes from some of her students, shows she succeeded in nurturing the children she cared about.
Tuesday's memorial will be held at noon atthe Life Center Churchin Tacoma, located at1717 South Union Avenue in Tacoma.