School honors teacher who died in Indianapolis explosion

Mrs. Longworth's students with reporter Nicole Pence and photojournalist Jacob Jennings

This weekend marks one year since an explosion on the south side of Indianapolis. One hundred homes were damaged or destroyed in the Richmond Hill neighborhood.

Jennifer and Dion Longworth in the home next door were killed in the blast. Jennifer taught at Southwest Elementary in Greenwood and the school is honoring her memory today.

The sign outside Southwest Elementary School reminds those who drive by that this school community is still healing after Jennifer Longworth was killed. A new media center is being built that will bear her name. Jennifer Longworth was a second grade teacher here for more than a decade and made a big impact.

Construction on the new media center is expected to wrap up by February. The staff at Southwest Elementary wanted to honor Jennifer Longworth by dedicating the new library to the former second grade teacher. As the anniversary of her death approaches, students and staff at Southwest Elementary are sharing memories about a teacher they still miss very much.

"Mrs. Longworth stood for - everything was gonna be a hundred percent or better. We know we have to put one foot in front of the other and we are coming back this year stronger than ever. I think her legacy fuels that for our school. We're under a major construction project this year and as a staff, we decided we couldn't think of a better way to honor memory than to dedicate the opening of our new media center in her name," said Principal Beth Guilfoy.

Jennifer Longworth's students shared beautiful memories of a teacher they say was energetic, helpful and dedicated. The girls I talked with still wear the scarves Jennifer Longworth made for them. She knitted hats and scarves for every single student she had.

"Every day when I hear her name, I think about her," said student Andrew Kremer.

It's been a difficult year for students at Southwest Elementary.

"Sometimes I go to bed when I am sleeping with my scarf and her name pops up in my head and I start crying because I miss her so much," said student Molly Wise.

Molly showed us that scarf Jennifer Longworth made for her.

"I reminds me of her. I chose blue because I knew it was her favorite color," said Molly.

Mrs. Longworth's former students are excited about the construction outside their school. The new media center will be dedicated to Jennifer Longworth once it opens in February.

"I like how the media center is a dedicated to her because the media center is a great place you can learn. She was a great learner and she taught us how to learn," said Andrew Jones.

These students say chatting about their former second grade teacher helps them deal with their emotions, especially around the anniversary of her death.

"It hurts to think about her in a sad way. But you think about her in a good way. It makes you smile," said Maura Guilfoy.

"When one of classmates would give up or not want to try because they didn't think they could do it, she would keep pushing them to do it," said Nathan Kremer.

On the back of Andrew's shirt is one of Mrs. Longworth's favorite quotes: "We all need someone who inspires us to be better than we know how."

The students bought these shirts to help fund a scholarship in Jennifer Longworth's honor. The scholarship program was started last spring to reward former students of Mrs. Longworth who want to become teachers.

Click here to donate to the fund.

There will also be a moment of silence held Monday morning to remember Jennifer Longworth here at Southwest Elementary.