LUBBOCK, Texas — While the hot air balloon crash in Albuquerque happened miles away from the South Plains, one resident remembers one of the five victims in her former teacher, Susan Montoya.
“Susan was moving to another school next year, so the staff at Georgia O’Keeffe chipped in funds to purchase a balloon ride for Susan and three guests as a farewell gift,” Albuquerque Public Schools said in a press conference.
Stephanie Nunn, said Mrs. Montoya, who she knew back then as Ms. Ray, was her English teacher at Clovis Christian High School.
“We have friends, classmates all the way clear to North Carolina and all of us are heartbroken,” Nunn.
Nunn said Mrs. Montoya would always push her students to be the best they could be.
“She didn’t want you to barely work your way through the class. She wanted you to earn your grades,” said Nunn. “She expected those papers to be top-notch. She wanted more sources than you really had to have.
In addition to her dedicated teaching, Nunn said Mrs. Montoya taught her and her students lessons beyond grammar.
“Compassion honestly [is] something that we learned the most from her,” said Nunn. “One of our classmates, Quenton, he actually came from the high school. They had moved from Clovis; they were military, he was so upset.”
Quenton Cummings, who lives in North Carolina, said Mrs. Montoya was his homeroom and English teacher his Junior year of High School.
Cummings said he had a tough time adjusting to a new school and that Mrs. Montoya helped change his life for the better.
“My grade point average was at the bottoms when I first go there, but I graduated with a 3.7 thanks to her,” said Cummings. “When we would have the pep rallies or anything like that, she always wanted me to speak, I’m like, ‘We have 13 other people in our class.'”
And while the memories spent with Mrs. Montoya live in the memory of her students, they said the lessons she taught them will stay forever.
“She would want you to know too, No. 1 — do your best in everything that you do but, No. 2– live life to the absolute fullest,” said Nunn.