Funeral arrangement announced for Collegeville principal

Staff Writer

This morning at Collegeville Elementary School in Bryant, students began their day with a moment of silence after the school's principal died unexpectedly Saturday morning.
Katie Thomas, 37, served as the principal at the school for eight years.
Thomas began her career in education as an elementary school teacher. After serving an assistant principal at two Bryant schools, she eventually became the instructional leader at Collegeville Elementary School.

"Believing all students can learn, she focused on encouraging strong educators and providing a safe and positive school environment. Mrs. Thomas was passionate about building leaders and often helped alongside her students in community service activities," said Devin Sherrill, spokesperson for the Bryant School District.

District leaders learned of Thomas' death Saturday. Faculty and staff were called to the school and given the news. After consulting with the Thomas family, parents of Collegeville students were notified late Saturday.
"We wanted parents to have the opportunity to talk with their children prior to Monday and deal with this sad loss as a family," Sherrill said.
An email was also sent to staff across the district.
"This is a very sad time for the family, faculty, students and colleagues of Mrs. Thomas. I am grateful to everyone who has reached out and offered help and support to the Collegeville family. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers," Superintendent Karen Walters wrote.

During this difficult time for both staff and students, faculty and staff are working to help students return to a regular routine as soon as possible.
"The priority will be the students and establishing a 'calm, safe, and steady' school environment," Sherrill said.
After the moment of silence this morning, the teachers spoke with the students about Thomas' death.
Doctors believe Thomas died after suffering a heart attack. This information will be communicated to students, Sherrill added.
To help students, additional counseling staff will also be available to meet with students individually and in groups today. The counselors will continue providing support for both students and staff for the remainder of the week.

Thomas is survived by her husband, Jared, and a son, Luke, who is a student at Collegeville Elementary School.
Visitation is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, at Pinecrest Funeral Home, located at 7401 Arkansas 5 N. in Alexander.
A celebration of Life will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, at Geyer Springs Baptist Church.
Bryant Deputy Superintendent Todd Sellers and Bryant Elementary School Principal Mark Scarlett will serve as pallbearers.
Other pallbearers include Seth Thomas, Brad Cowger, James McBryde and Michael McBryde. Honorary pallbearers are Julie Kate Cowger, Samuel Watson Cowger, Gabriel Seth Thomas and Aidan Lee Thomas.